To Stolen Generations Survivors, today we stand beside you and acknowledge the strength and resilience that you have shown through the unimaginable pain of removal and separation.
We say Sorry to our Coota Girls and to all Survivors.
Sorry to their mothers, fathers and siblings.
Sorry to their families and whole communities.
In 1995, over the course of 2 years, 1000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including many of our Coota Girls, gave their testimonies of their forced removal from family and communities, as part of The National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.
For many, reliving and sharing their experience of forced removal from their families and communities by ‘welfare’ was traumatic, yet strengthening. The removals took place by force, coercion, bribes and lies. The Inquiry provided a forum for Stolen Generations for the first time enabling them to share their stories of the suffering, the loss, the grief and abuses on all levels. For many it was an opportunity to unlock the past that they carried for so long.
The Inquiry resulted in the Bringing Them Home Report 1997 which was tabled in parliament on this day in 1997. The Report exposed for the first time in Australian history, the devastating impacts of removal inflicted on our Stolen Generations, their families and communities. The residual impact and intergenerational trauma continues for many of our families today.
The report was dedicated to many thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by forcible removal.
“We acknowledge the hardships they endured and the sacrifices they made. We remember and lament all the children who will never come home”.
The 54 report recommendations supported reparations, healing and reconciliation. Many of these recommendations are yet to be implemented. In 2017, The Healing Foundation released an evaluation of the recommendations, highlighting four key priorities. These can be viewed here https://www.healingfoundation.org.au//app/uploads/20
Healing is ongoing.
The Coota Girls Aboriginal Corporation continues to address the identified healing needs of our Survivors and their descendants through healing programs, advocacy and support.