The apology to the Stolen Generations eleven years ago was a long overdue recognition that some past policies and past actions of governments and other institutions were very destructive and damaging to many Aboriginal families and people across Australia. At the same time, the apology symbolised a willingness of government and Australians to listen to Aboriginal people who had for so many years tried to speak out and share their own and their families’ stories of removal, separation and, in too many cases, abuse.
- His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia
- Parliamentary colleagues including Opposition Leader, Peter Malinauskas
- The Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Sandy Verschoor
- Co-Chairs of Reconciliation SA, Helen Connolly and Professor Peter Buckskin, board members of Reconciliation SA and your new Executive Director, Shona Reid
- The Honourable John Hill, Independent Assessor for the Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme
- The many survivors of the Stolen Generations who are here today
I acknowledge that today’s event is taking place on the traditional lands of the Kaurna People and that we respect their spiritual relationship with their country.
I also acknowledge the Kaurna people as the custodians of the Adelaide region and that their cultural and heritage beliefs are still as important to the living Kaurna people today.
In addition, I pay respect to the cultural authority of Aboriginal people who are attending from other parts of South Australia and Australia.
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls.
I am honoured as Premier and Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, and also as a former Board member of Reconciliation SA, to be able to join you on this very important day.
The apology to the Stolen Generations eleven years ago was a long overdue recognition that some past policies and past actions of governments and other institutions were very destructive and damaging to many Aboriginal families and people across Australia.
At the same time, the apology symbolised a willingness of government and Australians to listen to Aboriginal people who had for so many years tried to speak out and share their own and their families’ stories of removal, separation and, in too many cases, abuse.
As you have heard already this morning from John Hill and Jenni Caruso, the experiences of the Stolen Generations can be harrowing to recall.
All state parliaments, including South Australia’s as the first in 1997, have also issued apologies to the Stolen Generations.
Three state governments, including South Australia, have initiated Stolen Generations Reparations Schemes.
The Scheme in South Australia was established with support across the Parliament to acknowledge the pain and suffering experienced by many South Australian Aboriginal people.
It also provided an opportunity for people to talk about their experiences of separation from family and how the trauma remained with them throughout their lives.
Through the South Australian Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme, payments were made to 312 people.
A Community Reparations Fund was also established.
This Fund was overseen by an Aboriginal Reference Group, and following an expression of interest process, the Fund provided financial support to 27 projects that related to the Stolen Generations.
The projects included healing events; creating memorials and places of reflection; making improvements to important places like the Colebrook Reconciliation Park and the Stolen Generations Memorial at Andrews Farm; creating state of the art family history portals; creating photographic archives; and supporting various arts activities that tell the story of the Stolen Generations.
Yesterday, in Parliament, I tabled John Hill’s report on the Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme and commended him for his work.
I encourage you to read his report.
Within the next few weeks, copies will be provided to all of the people who met with John to share their stories, including those ultimately determined to be eligible for a reparations payment.
The report is also available on-line at the Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation web-site.
I also announced in Parliament yesterday that the remaining funds in the Community Reparations Fund will be used to make additional reparations payments to those who received a payment under the Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme in 2018.
These additional funds will allow the total of each individual reparations payment to be increased to $30,000 for the 312 successful applicants.
Again within the next few weeks, I will write to recipients of the additional payment to provide details of the process.
We believe that this is the best way to make use of these funds.
The feedback we have received from many Aboriginal people and Aboriginal organisations is that Stolen Generations monies should directly benefit members of the Stolen Generations themselves.
My Government has also released an Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan.
It outlines 32 projects that will be undertaken over the next two years to work with Aboriginal people and organisations to deliver significant outcomes in a range of areas.
This plan is also available on-line at the Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation web-site.
The Action Plan projects cover employment, supporting Aboriginal businesses, housing, education, health and culture, as well an initiative to find new ways for the Government to better engage with Aboriginal people.
We want to hear your voice and work with Aboriginal people to provide better economic opportunities and better services as we continue to respect Aboriginal culture and heritage.
In closing, I thank Reconciliation SA for once again staging this marvellous event.
Reconciliation SA does a great job in encouraging Reconciliation across our state.
Events like this one are very important.
It brings so many of us together to show our respect and affection for South Australia’s Aboriginal people and culture.
We are also able to acknowledge and, to some extent, make amends for the past, and, importantly, draw on the enthusiasm and commitment of all of you here today to help build the best possible future for today’s and tomorrow’s generations.