CLAN's Press Release on Senate Inquiry Review
CLAN PRESS RELEASE: FORGOTTEN AUSTRALIANS REPORT: PUBLIC HEARINGS START TODAY
“I had my brother and my sister stolen from me. I was ill-treated. The Apology would be wonderful. It might compensate for the ill-treatment we suffered and the stolen brother and sister. We weren’t told we were going to be sepa-rated. We gave up everything – it was taken from us – even our identity.”
With public hearings beginning today into the 2004 Forgotten Australians Report, Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN) has called on the Rudd government to implement the recommendations of the Report, which are now nearly 5 years old.
There were at least 500 orphanages and Children’s Homes in Australia last century, operating into the 1980s, and run by churches, charities and state governments. The Senate Inquiry report stated that there were 500 000 Australians who had been institutional care– this represents the population of Tasmania. The Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care, which resulted in the Forgotten Australians Report, revealed ‘a litany of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and often criminal physical and sexual assault’, along with neglect including deprivation of food, education and health-care. Such abuse and assault, said the report, ‘was widespread across institutions, across States and across the government, religious and other care providers’. The Report concluded that in such institutions there had been ‘wide scale unsafe, improper and unlawful care of children, a failure of duty of care, and serious and repeated breaches of statutory obligations’.
When the Report was handed down there was bi-partisan support for its recommendations, but since then almost nothing has happened.
Now is the time to act. ‘ This is unfinished business’ said CLAN spokesperson, Leonie Sheedy. ‘We welcomed the Apology to the Stolen Generations but now it’s time to acknowledge all the other Australian children who suffered in the past from misguided and harmful government policies. The tragedy for these children was the loss of their parents. The wrong was that governments and churches not only failed to look after them, but made their situation worse. Orphanages were warehouses for sad and damaged children, where neglect and abuse were too often the norm.
Retired Democrats Senator Andrew Murray, who instigated the Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care in 2003, said today, ‘The Rudd Labor government moved quickly on the Stolen Generations but have done very little about Forgotten Australians and Child Migrants, whose needs are just as great’. He backed care leavers’ calls for an Apology from the Prime Minister. In their submissions to the Inquiry, many care leavers named an Apology as a key factor in the healing process: “I want and need a formal apology for the treatment I received”, said one. “Had I received some understanding and an apology many years ago, I may not be suffering as I do now”.
At the hearing CLAN will be calling on the Federal Government to implement key recommendations of the Forgotten Australians report, including:
Since the Report was handed down in August 2004, redress schemes have been established in Queensland, WA and Tasmania. Forgotten Australians are still waiting for justice in SA, NSW and Victoria.
CLAN Press Releases