22 July 2020: Victoria to establish Truth and Justice Process for Aboriginal Victorians
We have previously reported regarding the plan to establish a Stolen Generations Redress Scheme, set to begin in 2021. The Scheme aims to address the trauma and suffering cause by the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families.
Under past state law and government policies, Victorian authorities were permitted to forcibly remove many Aboriginal children from their families, causing lasting distress and hurt. Premier Daniel Andrews said that “we say sorry, but the words are not enough – redress is about tangible support for people who are still suffering, many years on from this horrific policy”. A 2018 survey found that members of the Stolen Generation still suffered health, economic and social disadvantage, with more than 50 per cent living with a disability or chronic health condition.
Together with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Gavin Jennings, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that $10 million will be invested in the Scheme, allowing Stolen Generation members to choose from a range of redress options, including redress payments, counselling support and a funeral or memorial fund.
Detail on the scheme is yet to be released, possibly delayed by the COVID crisis. However, we are mindful that so many of the Stolen Generations have died or are elderly. It is imperative that the scheme is established without delay. This would be such a clear example of justice delayed being justice denied.
Similarly, the Truth and Justice Process also announced by the Victorian Government must not be delayed.
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs announced that the Government would begin work immediately in partnership with the First People’s Assembly to determine the terms of reference and how the process will work. This is a vital first step towards a long awaited treaty with our first Nation’s people.
Angela Sdrinis Legal has first hand experience with the tragic stories of so many of our Aboriginal clients who were stolen and placed into care only to face horrific abuse. Whilst aspects of abuse have been recognised by the Royal Commission into Child Abuse, the loss of country, culture and separation from siblings and family has not. In one of our cases, two siblings separated as babies and placed in care ended up in the same foster home. It was not until these children became adults that they learnt that they were in fact brother and sister. This casual cruelty and lack of care for children of indigenous background is unforgiveable.
By Angela Sdrinis, Director
& Georgia Spiridonos, Legal Trainee