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Fresh petition urges WA to follow other states with Stolen Generations compo scheme

Tom Zaunmayr -

The last state holdouts for Stolen Generations compensation have been urged to follow the example set by the rest of the nation as survivors take their case to a public petition.

Western Australia and Queensland are the only Australian jurisdictions without a compensation scheme in place.

Stolen Generation survivors and descendants have used National Sorry Day to launch an online petition urging the WA Government to step up to the plate.

Bringing Them Home WA co-chairman Tony Hansen said more than half WA's adult Aboriginal population were Stolen Generation survivors or descendants.

"It is important for people to understand that this discriminatory legislation was still in force when I was removed from my family and sent to Marribank Mission in 1970 at the age of three," he said.

"I was not allowed to leave the Mission until I turned 16 and it took me many years to reunite with some of my family.

"It is also important to understand that in Western Australia in particular, the impact of these policies and legislation such as the Native Welfare Act, was significant."

WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti said the government would review the petition.

"The forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families, their country, and their culture is without a doubt one of the most shameful chapters in Australian history, which has resulted in trauma and pain," he said.

"While there is no simple solution, particularly for social issues that have been generations in the making, the WA Government is very committed to a more dignified and prosperous future for Aboriginal people.

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"It's acknowledged that no amount of money or programs will ever be able to make up for the pain and suffering endured by members of the Stolen Generations, but we can commit ourselves to truth-telling and support the healing process."

Mr Buti said truth-telling and healing had begun with introduction of the Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy and Closing the Gap implementation plan last year, of which Stolen Generations needs were a significant factor in the process.

This year's Sorry Day on Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the repeal of WA's Native Welfare Act and 25 years since the tabling of the landmark report into the Stolen Generations.

WA Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation chairman Jim Morrison said the was plenty of unfinished business from the Bringing Them Home report.

"Only a handful of the 54 recommendations in the Bringing Them Home Report have been properly implemented by Commonwealth or state governments," he said.

"We need to tell the truth about these policies of child removal and their impact on Aboriginal families and we need to provide proper justice and healing for Stolen Generations Survivors and their families.

"Whilst most States have implemented compensation schemes... sadly this has not happened in Western Australia."

The new petition launched on May 26 calls on WA's Legislative Council to inquire into compensation schemes established in other states with a view to enact a similar scheme in WA.

Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford in March said healing processes for Stolen Generations survivors would likely arise as part of the government's path to Treaty.


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