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.