From ABC TV 7:30 Report 7 Jan 08
HEATHER EWART: Ten years ago an inquiry into the Stolen Generations recommended compensation for thousands of people forcibly removed from their families. When Kevin Rudd came to power, he promised to deliver what John Howard couldn’t, or wouldn’t: an apology to the Aboriginal population. Now, it seems the new Government’s plan to say ‘sorry’ won’t be accompanied by a billion-dollar compensation fund. The move has triggered anger among some Aboriginal leaders and warnings of legal action. Earlier I spoke to the Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin in our Canberra studio. Jenny Macklin, if you can apologise to the Stolen Generation, why can’t you compensate them?
JENNY MACKLIN, INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS MINISTER: We do believe that it is very important to make a national apology, for the Prime Minister to make the apology and as you’d be aware, we’re consulting widely on the nature and the timing of the apology. We think it’s the respectful thing to do and a way for us to move forward. We don’t think that it’s the right thing to have a national compensation fund. We think it would be far more productive to really put that money into addressing the very serious levels of disadvantage that still exist in Indigenous communities.
From ABC Radio National AM 7 Jan 08
LINDY KERIN: The national inquiry into the Stolen Generations more than a decade ago found that between one in three and one in 10 Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families between 1910 and 1970.
Among the 54 recommendations from the inquiry was a call for reparations and compensation.
Now Indigenous leaders across the country have renewed calls for a $1 billion fund to be set up as part of the Labor Government’s apology to the Stolen Generations.
Christine King is the chairwoman of the national Stolen Generations Alliance.
CHRISTINE KING: We believe that there is a fund that should be set up. There are, it’s not just about compensation, there are a broad range of things that people want, not everyone wants money, some people want a healing centre, some people want cultural centres, so there is wide variety and wide choice, but as with anything, when someone has a case against the Australian Government, they go to court and they fight for it.
Read the rest of this entry for a songlines call to Minister Mackin to adopt a both-and approach on this matter. If so moved, send her an email as well – JMacklin.MP@aph.gov.au – let’s get this country on the healing path for a healing century to repair the damage of the last two.
From: Bruce Reyburn
Sent: Tuesday, 8 January 2008 12:35 PM
Subject: Greetings 08, compensation and government’s obligation.
The Hon Jenny Macklin MP
Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
Greetings for 2008 and congratulations to the ALP for replacing the Howard government. It was a long time coming.
That said, I urge you to reconsider the issue of compensation to the members of the stolen generations, especially by way of providing capital and recurrent funding for healing and cultural centres where they are the form of compensation requested.
Ensuring the equivalent health and well-being standards for First Peoples within a modern nation-state is a fundamental duty and obligation of government.
Achieving equivalent health and well-being standards for indigenous peoples is not something which can be invoked, in order to gain a secondary benefit to the advantage of Treasury and at the real cost of First Peoples, as an alternative to compensation for past damages brought about by state policies.
Indeed, to do so is to fail to understand the obligations placed on government vis-a-via First Peoples, who are fully entitled to enjoy these equivalent standards without any additional qualification.
In order to heal this core part of Australian life (past mal-treatment of First Peoples by misguided White Australia policies) BOTH compensation and restoring full well-being are necessary. It is not an ‘either/or’ situation.
Please adopt a culturally appropriate ‘both-and’ approach in indigenous affairs – and leave the divisive ‘either/or’ wedge politics firmly behind us, dead and buried.
We really do need to move on now – enough time and precious social capital was lost under the Howard government – and make a new beginning which treats, affirms and satisfies First Peoples as our cultural partners in Australian life.
PS Former P.M. Keating’s “Indigenous social justice package” in return for certainty for Australian business also long overdue for delivery by the Australian Parliament, on behalf of Australia’s non-indigenous peoples.