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Protest at WA Parliament calls for long-overdue Stolen Generations redress scheme

Rhiannon Clarke -

Protesters gathered outside of Parliament House in Boorloo/Perth Tuesday afternoon calling for compensation for Stolen Generations survivors.

Noongar Elder Jim Morrison said the redress recommendations from the Bringing them Home Report finalised 26 years ago should be implemented.

"In 1905 the act was put in place here, this same building with the breed out the colour policy was initiated," he said.

"Let's not say that our children were taken away because we were "bad parents", the breed out policy was the eugenics of this country and initiated by A.O. Neville the devil."

Western Australia is one of just two Australian jurisdictions, alongside Queensland, that has not provided compensation to Stolen Generation survivors.

In 2004 Tasmania was the first state to bring this into action, South Australia followed in 2015, Victoria in 2021, New South Wales in 2020, and ACT and the Northern Territory in 2022.

Tony Hansen, board member of Bringing Them Home WA, spoke about how Indigenous culture is the oldest living cultures in the world and that all Australians should pride themselves on it as a nation.

Bring them home co-chair Tony Hansen. Image: Rhiannon Clarke

Mr Hansen said we must also look back on Australian history with openness and honesty.

"Since colonisation by the European settlers, the Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders have experienced hardship ranging from the loss of culture, homelands and the forcible removal children and denied citizen rights," he said.

"This history of injustice has affected many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people have been denied basic human rights such as rights to health, housing, employment and education.

"The attitude, and actions taken, back when the European settlers first arrived is still present, with the laws that were put forth in the 19th century, it set off a chain reaction of generational trauma.

"The removal of children, stolen from mothers and families, language and country and culture, has been the biggest experience to cover the guilt of removing those children."

Mr Hansen noted that many of those children "were products of rape from white men who created these laws to hide their guilt while trying to demonstrate some kind of non-responsibility".

"50 per cent of Aboriginal people living in our state today are connected to the stolen generation, so that's every second Aboriginal person that walks past the community they have that trauma…that has impacted their lives," he said.

Compared with other Aboriginal people, Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants are 3.3 times more likely to have been incarcerated, 1.8 times more likely to rely on government payments, and 1.7 times more likely to experience violence.

Stolen Generations survivors are also 1.6 times more likely to be unemployed, 1.6 times more likely to homeless and 1.5 times more likely to have mental health problems.

WA Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Dr Tony Buti. Image: Rhiannon Clarke

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Dr Tony Buti, spoke to the protest gathering and said over a period of time the state government has enacted some of the reparation measures.

"I continue to look at what can be done from the state government point of view and I continue to have that discussion with my colleagues and the premier Roger Cook," he said.

"I am listening and I am looking at what we can do…whilst it's important and I'm not saying no to the conversation that is part of it.

"But as the Bringing them Home Report calls for, it's about a whole measure to look at what we can do and ensuring the wrongs of the past are compensated for, and also that they won't occur again. And how to ensure that Aboriginal people, particularly the Stolen Generations victims, have a better life moving to the future and that we do close the gap."

Greens MLC, Dr Brad Pettitt, who tabled a petition calling for redress last year, said: "This has been a journey that has taken too long, 26 years of bring them home reports is too long."

"I know WA is often joked about as standing for 'wait a while' but this is something we shouldn't be waiting for for a while, as both Jim (Morrison) and Tony [Hansen] have said, waiting a while has real consequences," he said.

"We have people who were impacted, part of these generations who have sadly passed away and never gonna have that justice, never going to have that compensation they deserve.

"We do need action on this really soon and it's only right here right now in this place and we are happy to do it."

Member of the Western Australian Legislative Council Brad Pettit. Image: Rhiannon Clarke

"Most petitions are dealt within a matter of months and it's quite unusual that this case has received silence... like Jim and Tony I hope that our new premier Roger Cook will actually act on this," said Dr Pettitt.

Mr Morrison and Mr Hansen are hopeful the current premier Roger Cook will act on this movement, stating that Mr Cook has been associated with the Indigenous community of Boorloo and is aware of the work the Noongar Elders have put in throughout the decades to achieve justice.

Board member of Yokai Healing our Spirit Jim Morrison. Image: Rhiannon Clarke

Protestors. Image: Rhiannon Clarke

Image Rhiannon Clarke

Image: Rhiannon Clarke

Smoking ceremony Image: Rhiannon Clarke

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