A co-chair of Bringing Them Home WA says survivors of the Stolen Generations need a representative if or when an Indigenous Voice to Parliament is enshrined in the constitution later in the year.
The comments come as members of Western Australia’s Stolen Generations gathered on Wednesday for a late commemoration of former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to First Nations people forcibly removed from their families under racist government policies.
The official date of the anniversary is February 13, but this year’s commemoration was pushed back to accommodate the chairs of the Western Australian Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation (WASGAC) and Bringing Them Home WA (BTHWA) who were in Canberra at the time attending official Apology Day events at the invitation of the Healing Foundation.
Despite having one of the highest numbers of Stolen Generations survivors in the country, with almost 57 per cent of Aboriginal people in the state impacted by the past policies, WA alongside QLD are the only two jurisdictions without a compensation scheme in place for Survivors.
Compensation for Stolen Generations survivors is in line with two of the 54 recommendations from the 1997 Human Rights Commission Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families, which became known as the Bringing Them Home Report.
In May 2022, WA Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants launched a petition urging the state government to follow other state and territories example by establishing a state reparations scheme. The petition has since been tabled in parliament.
In a statement, the chair of the WASGAC Jim Morrison, who has been involved for over 50 years in various national organisations that have attempted to provide a Voice to First Nations people said: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in general and Stolen Generations Survivors in particular, have not had an effective Voice to provide advice to Politicians and Public Servants about understanding the need for culturally informed and culturally safe policies to deal with the ongoing trauma inflicted on families.”
“If Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have a constitutionally enshrined Voice which could provide culturally informed advice about dealing with the “dimensions of our crisis” without the fear of being abandoned or disbanded at the whim of Government, I am confident that we will see positive improvements in Close the Gap measures and in the quality of life for our First Peoples and for Stolen Generations Survivors and their families,” Morrison said.
Co-chair of Bringing Them Home WA, Tony Hansen said this latest anniversary highlights the lack of progress in implementing the 54 recommendations from the Bringing Them Home Report.
Listen to the interview with Bringing Them Home WA, Co-Chair Tony Hansen: