4.7 Threshold of Evidence

The Steering Committee has found that the threshold of evidence must not be a barrier for applicants in accessing the Reparations Scheme, including for those with a lived experience of disability. Given this the following recommendations are made.

Recommendation 27

The Steering Committee recommends that processes are developed to ensure the onus is on the Departmental Stolen Generations Reparations Unit to locate evidence to assess applications.

This is recommended to avoid unnecessary stress on applicants and ensure the process remains trauma informed.

It is also recommended that the threshold of evidence be low when assessing eligibility for the Scheme. A low threshold of evidence may be a short report that summarises, based on personal or other records, only what is required under the eligibility requirements recommended in this report (4.4 Eligibility). Rather than a full and complete history of the applicant’s time separated from family. It is noted in some cases a full and complete history may be required in order to establish Aboriginality. It is noted that existing Stolen Generations services in Victoria may assist in confirming Aboriginality.

To fulfill this recommendation, it is recommended that the Stolen Generations Reparations application form include an applicant’s consent to access records on their behalf so that the Departmental Reparations Unit can access records from multiple government and non-government agencies to assess claims. Additionally, it is recommended that the application process offer the applicant the opportunity to provide evidentiary records or file numbers if they wish but to ensure it is made clear that this not a requirement. Please see both of these requirements outlined in Appendix 5.

To fulfill this recommendation, it is also recommended by the Steering Committee that the Victorian Government ensure the Departmental Reparations Unit have access to all relevant Government and non-Government records for the purposes of evidence and assessment. There are a number of relevant records holding agencies that may be required to assess a Stolen Generations Reparations application. Those considered essential are:

  • National Archives Australia,
  • Public Record Office Victoria,
  • Department of Families Fairness and Housing,
  • Adoption and Births, Deaths and Marriages, Department of Justice and Community Safety
  • Department of Health,
  • Victorian private hospitals,
  • Victoria Police,
  • Department of Education,
  • Non-government agencies such as Anglicare Victoria, Berry Street, Good Shepherd Australia, Mackillop Family Services, Uniting Heritage Service, Salvation Army, Anglican Diocese of Ballarat and Wangaratta, Melbourne City Mission,State Library Victoria collections such as Dianne Barwick records,
  • State Library Victoria collections such as Dianne Barwick records
  • Private collections such as those held at Melbourne University Archives or the Doxford Harris Indexes.

It is noted that any additional resourcing required for the above agencies that this be funded from a separate budget to ensure the Stolen Generations Reparations package is able to provide recognition worthy of the Stolen Generations experience.

It is recommended that if personal records about separation from family are not located in the first instance that a holistic evidentiary process is completed. For example, historical policy documentation, education records, hospital records, police records, or other relevant searches, to ensure that the guiding principle, at recommendation 3, Chapter 3: Stolen Generation Reparations Package, of separation under an assimilation ideology and not only the instrument of removal, i.e., foster care, adoption, institutionalisation, is considered in locating evidence.