18 March 2020 - Victoria moves to establish a Stolen Generations Redress Scheme
Today the Andrews’ Government announced it will establish a Redress Scheme for members of the Stolen Generation in Victoria. The Scheme will be designed to address the suffering and trauma experienced by many Aboriginal people due to the policy of forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families.
Under various government policies, many hundreds of Aboriginal children were removed from their families between 1910 and the 1970s. This practice had devastating effects on individuals and families and caused catastrophic disruption to Aboriginal culture and language in Victoria. Many members of the Stolen Generation still suffer higher levels of economic disadvantage, poorer health and weaker social connectedness.
Premier Daniel Andrews said ‘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.’
Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Gavin Jennings, said the government had committed $10 million toward the establishment of the scheme.
In establishing the Scheme, a variety of redress options will be considered in recognition of the multiple challenges that face survivors of the Stolen Generation. Some of the possible redress options noted by the Andrews’ government include financial payments, counselling support and funeral or memorial funding.
As we have learned from the National Redress Scheme, for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse, making an application to the scheme can be a very challenging and emotional process for survivors. Therefore, it is good to see that one of the options suggested by the Andrews’ government is the establishment of a support process for applicants to the Scheme, to assist survivors of the Stolen Generation in coming forward, telling their story and making a claim for assistance.
The need for a Redress Scheme was raised and promoted at the first meeting of the First People’s Assembly of Victoria in December 2019. It is intended that the Scheme will start in 2021 and that there will be consultations in shaping the Scheme to most effectively support Victorians accessing the Scheme.
We support this initiative and hope that it goes some way to addressing the pain that previous government policies caused. In addition, we hope that the Andrews’ government learns from the experiences of the National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced institutional child abuse. In particular, we understand it is important to fund the Scheme sufficiently for it to function effectively and without extended delays. We understand that the scheme can never undo the destruction of families and the associated grief for survivors but hope that it will bring some measure of assistance.
By Elke Nicholson
Solictor at Angela Sdrinis Legal