3.2 Reparations – Apology

As stated above, this report understands this aspect of reparations, detailed in the Bringing Them Home Report, as an apology to acknowledge the past wrongs done to Stolen Generations. The Steering Committee has considered the below consultation data and makes the following recommendations to ensure formal recognition of the Stolen Generations experience is included within Victorian Reparations.

To provide meaning and authenticity to a financial reparations payment it is recommended that a personal apology be made to Stolen Generations alongside the payment. The Stolen Generations Reparations survey indicates 25 of 63 participants who identified as Stolen Generations would benefit from a letter of apology and 14 out of 63 participants would benefit from a verbal apology.

Recommendation 8

The Steering Committee recommends that Stolen Generations receive a personal Victorian Government apology as part of the Reparations package.

To fulfill this recommendation, it is recommended that the apology be provided as an option of a personal letter of apology, a personal face to face apology with a senior member of Government, or no apology at all as requested by the applicant.

It may also be considered that if a non-government church or charity agency was involved in the removal of the applicant the apology be shared by the current body representing the relevant non-government agency.

In addition, the Steering Committee make the following recommendation with relation to an apology to Stolen Generations.

Recommendation 9

The Steering Committee recommends that Victoria Police make a formal apology for their role in the separation of Stolen Generations children.

As noted in 2.3 Victorian Responses to the Bringing Them Home Report, Victoria Police are yet to make an apology to Stolen Generations as recommended in the Bringing Them Home Report. The Bringing Them Home Report states that between the 1950s and 1960s the Victorian Police had the legislative power to remove children under Victorian child protection legislation.188 Research found that of the 150 Aboriginal children in Victorian institutions between 1956 and 1957, ‘the great majority had been seized by the police and charged in the Children’s Court with being in need of care and protection’.189 Additionally, police attitudes were raised during consultations session with Stolen Generations about Reparations. 33 out of 94 respondents of the Stolen Generations Reparations survey indicated that police were involved in their own or their families separation from family.

End notes

188 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997, Bringing Them Home Report

189 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997, Bringing Them Home Report

190 Victoria Government, August 1996, Final Submission, Part 1, National Inquiry into the Separations of Aboriginal Children and Torres Strait Islander Children from their families