Stolen Generations inquiry established to examine reparations in NSW

Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson on Aboriginal Affairs, has welcomed the NSW Upper House’s support for an inquiry into reparation for the Stolen Generations.

“I’m very pleased that the NSW Legislative Council unanimously supported my motion to establish an inquiry into reparations for the Stolen Generations in NSW. This inquiry is an opportunity for us to examine what we have achieved in addressing the intergenerational harm caused to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to take a thorough look at what still must be done,” Ms Barham said.

“It’s eighteen years since the Bringing Them Home report into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families was released, and seven years since the national apology to the Stolen Generations.

“Bringing Them Home made it very clear that an apology is only one step of making amends for the injustices of the past. It’s time to see what progress federal and state governments have made in fulfilling the obligation to make reparations. This includes examining where we stand in terms of delivering guarantees against repetition of past harms, measures of restitution and rehabilitation, and the question of monetary compensation.”

Ms Barham, who serves as Chair of the General Purpose Standing Committee No. 3 that will conduct the inquiry, noted that the terms of reference include consideration of the NSW Government’s response to the Bringing Them Home recommendations, along with considering options for new policy and legislation.

“In recent years we’ve seen other states take up some of the issues raised in the national inquiry that haven’t addressed by the Federal Government, with Tasmania implementing a compensation scheme and South Australia conducting its own inquiry and having a Bill that passed through their upper house.

“The disadvantage still experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities needs to be addressed, and that includes the intergenerational trauma inflicted by the separation of children from their families and their culture.

“This inquiry has the opportunity to engage directly with Aboriginal people, communities and organisations to learn about what we should do to deliver genuine reparations. I’m pleased that the Parliament has given its support to this important work,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Terms of reference:

1. That General Purpose Standing Committee No. 3 inquire into and report on reparations for the Stolen Generations in New South Wales, and in particular:

(a) the New South Wales Government’s response to the report of the 1996 National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Their Families entitled ‘Bringing them Home’ and the recommendations made in the report regarding reparations,
(b) potential legislation and policies to make reparations to members of the Stolen Generations and their descendants, including approaches in other jurisdictions, and
(c) any other related matter.

2. That for the purposes of paragraph 1, the committee adopt the definition of ‘reparations’ contained in recommendation no. 3 of the ‘Bringing them Home’ report, which states that reparation should consist of:

(a) acknowledgment and apology,
(b) guarantees against repetition,
(c) measures of restitution,
(d) measures of rehabilitation, and
(e) monetary compensation.

NSW Budget: Government doesn’t deliver on affordable housing despite stamp duty windfall

The Greens have criticised the NSW Government for delivering a 2015-16 Budget that benefits from a boom in stamp duty revenue yet fails to do enough to ensure the availability of affordable housing across Sydney and the state.

Jan Barham, Greens NSW Housing spokesperson said:

“The healthy position of the NSW Budget rests on the skyrocketing rate of stamp duty revenue, which is driven by the red hot property market in Sydney and other parts of the state. Even with the forecast ‘moderation’ of residential stamp duty next year, the Government’s income from houses changing hands is expected to rise by another 11.8 percent in the coming year.

“Housing affordability pressures are a continuing challenge for people in New South Wales. We need a whole-of-government approach to fix it, and sadly the Budget doesn’t show the willingness to ensure that people will find affordable, appropriate homes where they want to live and work.

“Although there is some new investment in social housing and boosting general supply, there is little sign of a plan to deliver affordable homes for people on low and moderate incomes in the areas where they’re desperately needed.

“The NSW housing and homelessness peak bodies have rejected claims that increasing supply will solve the housing affordability crisis. They recognise that we need tax reform, along with public investment and private incentives to deliver affordable housing.”

Jenny Leong, Greens MP for Newtown and Rental Housing spokesperson, said:

“This Budget has no signs of relief for people struggling to pay rents in Sydney and across NSW. Rents in some parts of Sydney have almost doubled in the past decade. Wages clearly haven’t. People in NSW are increasingly suffering from housing stress.

“The Government’s own ‘Mapping the Budget’ tool shows that there are only four affordable housing projects funded in the City of Sydney, and none in the surrounding local government areas including Marrickville and Leichhardt.

“Selling off public housing and failing to protect long-term renters is not a long-term solution to housing affordability in NSW.”

For Further Comment:
Jan Barham – 0447 853 891
Jenny Leong – 0433 753 376


Joint statement by housing and homelessness peaks on affordable housing

NSW Budget fails to deliver a genuine boost to early support for at-risk families

The NSW Government’s 2015-16 Budget has not delivered the much-needed investment in support for vulnerable families to protect children and prevent child removal, says Greens MP and spokesperson on Family and Community Services and Housing.

“The Budget papers show that the Government still isn’t taking sufficient action to address the major challenges facing disadvantaged and vulnerable people in this state,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham noted that the Family and Community Services budget didn’t deliver a genuine boost to early intervention services, while the number of children and young people placed in out-of-home care has continued to rise higher than forecast.

“The Government should take no pride in its increase to the out-of-home care budget, which was required because the number of children in care has risen sharply with nearly 20,000 children and young people in care,” Ms Barham said.

“Although adequate funding of out-of-home care and support for foster carers is essential, the Government needs to put more investment into supporting at-risk families before they reach the point where child removal becomes necessary.

“The Budget has again failed to deliver a major boost to the services that would target at-risk families and prevent abuse and neglect.

“The Budget Papers have clouded the Family and Community Services funding by transferring the Office of Communities and their general community grants across from the Education cluster.

“It appears that the Government has opted for smoke and mirrors rather than delivering a genuine boost to the targeted programs that would help to keep children safe at home, and would reduce the pressure on the child protection and out-of-home care systems.”

Ms Barham warned that the Government’s focus on open adoption would only assist a small number of children in care and that a broader emphasis on building a system that supported all children and families was required.

“Children and young people who enter the out-of-home care system often face disadvantage and risk as they transition into adulthood. Many children face homelessness, involvement in the justice system and other problems when they leave care. More needs to be done to support them at that vulnerable time.

“The Government must do more to prevent children entering into the system, and to ensure that all children who are unable to be restored to their families have the opportunity and support to make a successful transition into independent adulthood,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Save Byron’s Beaches

Byron Councils support for construction of a rockwall at Belongil Beach will increase erosion, reduce public safety and amenity, affect the tourism industry and set a terrible precedent for the NSW coastline. Tamara Smith MP, the Member for Ballina, Byron’s Greens councillors and I are working with our community to oppose it. You can help us.

Save Byron's Beaches sticker

Click here to request stickers and show your support.

We’re collecting signatures on petitions to be tabled in both houses of Parliament. Download them, collect signatures and send them in:

Watch my speech on the history of Byron Bay’s coastal management, delivered on Thursday 4th June in the NSW Legislative Council:

Tweed Crown Land at risk from potential Gold Coast Airport expansion

North Coast Greens MP and Crown Lands spokesperson Jan Barham has raised concerns about the transfer of a Tweed Crown Reserve that appears to be left with inadequate safeguards against destruction to allow an extension of the Gold Coast Airport runway.

“I’ve asked several questions in Parliament during the past week regarding a NSW Crown Reserve that has been transferred to Gold Coast Airport,” Ms Barham said.

“I’m concerned that the NSW Government has exposed the land to inadequate protection from the impact of development work at the site, including the possible extension of the runway.

“Last week when the Minister for Lands answered my question about the lack of consultation and safeguards before the lease was transferred, he referred to the current public consultation about the proposed installation of an Instrument Landing System and said there would be a subsequent approval process.

“But the airport’s own Preliminary Draft Major Development Plan makes clear that the approval process only relates to work being undertaken on the Commonwealth airport land, not the NSW Crown Reserve.

“This week I asked whether there will be any environmental planning and approval process for any work being conducted on the NSW Crown land, but the Minister wasn’t able to provide any assurance.

Ms Barham warned that the transfer of the Crown Reserve appeared to be part of an overall plan by the airport for extension of the runway that would involve the clearing of significant lands.

“It appears that the Minister is unaware of the plans of the airport to seek an extension of the runway that would involve the destruction of important ecological areas and impact on residents’ amenity,” Ms Barham said.

“In November 2013, Gold Coast Airport wrote to the then Planning Minister Brad Hazzard and stated that ‘In the longer term, the securing of the additional land area for the airport will enable construction of an extension to the runway.’

“The community should be very concerned that the current proposal opens the door for the airport to carry out major work toward a runway extension and airport expansion, without adequate NSW Government oversight of environmental protection and development approval on Crown land,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891