Australia on Thursday announced that it will offer reparations of A$75,000 ($55,000) to some of the members of its Indigenous population who had been earlier forcibly removed from their families as children.
“To say formally, not just that we’re deeply sorry for what happened, but that we will take responsibility for it,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison in parliament on Thursday.
Between the early 1900s and about 1970, over 100,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and communities and sent to live with White families. During a formal apology to the so-called ‘Stolen Generation’ in 2008, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had called it a ”great stain on our nation’s soul.”
Earlier this year in April, 800 survivors in the Northern Territory launched a class-action suit against the federal government in the New South Wales Supreme Court seeking reparations, for its actions against the indigenous people between 1910 to the 1970s.
“This is a long called-for step, recognising the bond between healing, dignity and the health and well-being of members of the Stolen Generations, their families and their communities,” Morrison added.
Earlier the government had released its latest “Closing the Gap” report, which charts commitments to improve Indigenous people’s wellbeing.
In an effort to address the serious disadvantages faced by the country’s 700,000 Indigenous people, the Federal government has come up with an initiative of one billion Australian dollars ($739.2m). This reparation fund is part of that initiative.
The life expectancy of Indigenous Australians is eight years shorter than for non-Indigenous people and they are over-represented in prison, according to government statistics.
Lidia Thorpe, a senator for the Greens and a descendant of the Gunnai, Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung peoples took to Twitter to say that, ”the Stolen Generation never stopped, the processes of child removal just evolved.”
Scott Morrison announced $75 000 reparations to survivors of the Stolen Generation on the same day Closing the Gap reports that First Nations kids are 11 times more likely to be in out of home care. The Stolen Generation never stopped, the processes of child removal just evolved.
— Senator Lidia Thorpe (@SenatorThorpe) August 5, 2021
People from the Indigenous groups have welcomed the payments, but have said that reparations will require a lot more work for them to reach the ones who were harmed.
“It’s something, but it’s not everything. It won’t provide that end state of a healed nation, but there is hope,” Reuters quoted Fiona Cornfort, CEO of the Healing Foundation, a representative group for some members of the Stolen Generation.