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There are a number of eligibility requirements that have been considered in relation to the Stolen Generations Reparations package in Victoria, as such the Steering Committee makes the following recommendations. These are to be used alongside the guiding principle at recommendation three, Chapter 3.

Adoption

The Stolen Generations Reparations survey indicates 10 of 63 participants who identified as Stolen Generations were adopted and a further 8 of 47 participants had a family member who was adopted. With respect to the experience of Victorian Stolen Generations who were separated from family by adoption, as noted at recommendation three, it is recommended by the Steering Committee that Stolen Generations who were adopted be eligible for the Stolen Generations Reparations Victoria.

To fulfill this recommendation, it is recommended that this include Stolen Generations whose parents signed a consent to adopt form under duress or undue influence. This is recommended to ensure, as noted at recommendation 3, that assessment consider the broad historic policy and assimilation practices in place aimed to separate Aboriginal children from family, community, Culture and Country. In order to fulfil this, the Reparations guidelines are to ensure that the threshold of evidence used to assess applications for adopted Stolen Generations are flexible in looking at adoption records and consider the broad assimilation practices where a ‘consent to adopt’ record exists. The Bringing Them Home Report descriptions of ‘duress’ and ‘undue influence’ can be utilised within assessment as a way to look beyond the face value of existing adoptions evidence, such as a signed consent form, and understand the contexts of policy and practice that led to Aboriginal mothers signing consent to adopt forms.196

End Date

The Stolen Generations Reparations survey indicates the following statistics out of 94 participants who identified as Stolen Generations or a family member of Stolen Generations:

  • 6 Stolen Generations were separated between 1920s and 1940s.
  • 28 Stolen Generations were separated from family between 1940s and 1960s.
  • 40 Stolen Generations were separated from family between 1960s and 1970s.
  • 0 were separated in 1980s.
  • 4 Stolen Generations did not know when they were separated from family and 3 descendants did not know when their relative was removed from family.

Recommendation 21

The Steering Committee recommends that to be eligible for the Stolen Generations Reparations package the applicant must have been removed prior to 31 December 1976.

This is based on the establishment of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency at the end of 1976 and the subsequent changes in children protection for Aboriginal children following this (further details in 2.1 The Archived History of Stolen Generations in Victoria).

It is further recommended that research be completed to review the period between 1977 and 1990 to assess the continuance of removals that could be considered as Stolen Generations. Once complete a report should be provided to the independent assessment panel for further delineation and guidance around eligibility for applicants for apply within this time period.

Interstate

With respect to jurisdictional responsibility for Stolen Generations removals the following recommendation is made.

Recommendation 22

The Steering Committee recommends that to be eligible for Reparations in Victoria the first act of removal must have occurred in Victoria by a Government or non-government agency.

For example, those who were removed to Victoria from New South Wales and Queensland under the Harold Blair Holiday Project or those who were removed from Northern Territory to Victoria under Commonwealth Government or church schemes would not be eligible for Victorian Stolen Generations Reparations as the initial act of removal did not occur in Victoria.

However, those that were removed from Victoria to another state would be eligible for Victorian Stolen Generations Reparations as the initial act of removal occurred in Victoria. The Stolen Generations Reparations survey indicates 12 out of 94 participants who identified as Stolen Generations or family members were removed from Victoria to another state.

The Steering Committee recommends that although Stolen Generations removed from another state to Victoria would not be eligible for the Reparations package, they would be eligible for any Stolen Generations health, mental health and aged care services enhanced under an extension of Reparations as recommended in 5.3 Reparations – Measures of Rehabilitation.

The Steering Committee further recommends that applicants who are found ineligible for this reason are advised by the Departmental Reparations Unit about what support to seek in their original state of removal.

Non-Government Placements

Previous research found that until 1954 in Victoria there was no regulation of the non-government sector, this then allowed for non-government organisations to informally separate Stolen Generations children from family.197 As noted in 2.1 The Archived History of Stolen Generations in Victoria, it was found in 1968 that over 300 Aboriginal children had been informally separated at that time.198 Due to this history, the Steering Committee recommends, as noted at recommendation three, that those children separated from family in Victoria by non-government organisations should be considered eligible.

The Bringing Them Home Report found that temporary informal foster care arrangements in Victoria were frequently the beginning of a permanent separation of Aboriginal children from their family and community.199 The Stolen Generations Reparations survey indicated that 15 out of 94 Stolen Generations participants or family were separated via non-government organisations. As noted in 2.1 The Archived History of Stolen Generations in Victoria, some of the relevant non-government charity organisations involved with the Welfare Board were the Save The Children Fund, the Apex Clubs or the Country Women’s Association.200 Non-government church organisations were also involved with the institutionalisation of Aboriginal children in Victoria and should be considered within this recommendation.

Criminal History

With respect to the high number of Stolen Generations who have experienced a life that has led to a criminal history, as noted in 5.3 Reparations – Measures of Rehabilitation, the Steering Committee makes the following recommendation.

Recommendation 23

The Steering Committee recommends that Victorian Stolen Generations who are incarcerated should be eligible for Stolen Generations Reparations, however it is recommended that applicants who have committed an indictable or serious offence against another person should have their application reviewed by an independent assessment process.

The Steering Committee recommends that an Independent Assessment Process should consider the complexities of rehabilitation, the history of offences and be developed with the Stolen Generations Advisory Committee (detailed in 4.2 Accountability and Evaluation, recommendation 14).

Length of Time in Care

With an understanding of the lifelong impacts for Stolen Generations who were separated from family for the duration of their childhood, the Steering Committee makes the following recommendation.

Recommendation 24

The Steering Committee recommends that eligible applicants to the Reparations package must have been separated from family for a period of time that resulted in the experience of loss of family, community, Culture, identity and language.

It is recommended that the onus to establish this is not placed on the applicant but will instead be assessed by the independent assessment panel to ensure the process remains trauma informed and does not require any applicant to re-tell their story.

It is recommended that if an applicant was separated from family for a period of time that did not lead to loss of family, community, Culture, identity and language, they will be able to access Reparations counselling or mental health services.

The Stolen Generations Reparations survey indicates the following statistics out of 94 participants, Stolen Generations and family:

  • 3 Stolen Generations were separated from family for between 1 and 6 months.
  • 1 Stolen Generations person was separated from family for between 6 to 12 months.
  • 7 Stolen Generations were separated for between 1 and 5 years.
  • 13 Stolen Generations were separated for between 5 and 10 years.
  • 45 Stolen Generations were separated for over 10 years.
  • 12 participants did not know how long they or their family was removed for.

End notes

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

197 Haebich, A., 2000, Broken Circles: Fragmenting Indigenous Families 1880-2000, Fremantle, Fremantle Arts Centre Press

198 ‘Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs’, 30 September 1968, Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs Annual Report 1967- 1968, Item ID 31532602

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

200 ‘Aborigines Welfare Board’, January 1960, Minutes of meetings – Aboriginal Welfare Board 1959-1961, Item ID 1046524; Victoria Government, January 1996, Interim Submission, Part 1, National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal Children from their families

Reviewed 02 March 2022

Stolen Generations Reparations Steering Committee Report

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