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WA, QLD's feet-dragging on Stolen Generations compo casts shadow over entire country

Zak Kirkup -

Why is it that a survivor of the Stolen Generations in Victoria can access up to $100,000 in redress, yet in Western Australia a survivor still can't get a cent?

As we come to the end of yet another Reconciliation Action Week this is question that still casts a big shadow over the progress our nation is making.

Right across the country, every single state or territory government has implemented a redress scheme to recognise and compensate the Stolen Generation. Every government that is, except for WA and Queensland.

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As our country this week celebrates exceptional leaps forward in our long march towards meaningful reconciliation, these two states are still slowing our collective pace.

It is beyond absurd that WA and Queensland both have progressive Labor governments and yet they still hold out on implementing this key recommendation of the Bringing Them Home report into the Stolen Generation.

The WA and Queensland Governments both orchestrated programs to rip First Nations children from their families.

Both oversaw a perverted scheme to forcibly assimilate Indigenous kids into white families in an attempt to try and "breed the colour out".

Yet both continue to ignore the cries of the survivors and their families to pay compensation for their actions.

In this day and age where the WA Government-owned electricity provider will pay you if the power is out and your steak in the freezer thaws, this most basic recognition and financial support still goes wanting.

It is harder still to reconcile this failure given that every single other state and territory have established such a redress scheme.

A survivor in Victoria? They can access up to $100,000. ACT? $75,000. WA and Queensland? $0. It's a glaring inequality and inequity that only serves to reinforce the notions of institutional racism which still exist.

The saddest irony of all of this is that, in my view, the McGowan Labor Government is one of the most progressive governments when it comes to meaningful reconciliation.

They have implemented impressive Aboriginal procurement targets, employment targets, funding for remote and regional housing and made great progress on closing some of the gap particularly in education.

Yet even with a surplus of over $5.7 billion in this financial year, the government still holds out.

In Queensland, they have implemented ambitious plans to help Close the Gap across nearly every metric.

You only need to look at the Changing Tracks policy to eliminate the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system within a generation to see they are serious about these complex issues.

Yet with all this progress, with all this leadership and change by both Western Australia and Queensland the Stolen Generation is not treated equally as their brothers and sisters across the rest of Australia.

Next year we'll celebrate yet another week of reconciliation.

How great it would be if we can proudly and loudly proclaim that survivors of the Stolen Generation across the country regardless of where they live are not just recognised by the government's that took them from their families, but have been financially compensated for what happened to them.

For me personally, knowing many members of the WA Cabinet, I know they believe in this concept of redress and believe their government is better than this.

It is wrong, it is morally unfair and it needs to change.

Zak Kirkup is of Yamatji heritage and is the former leader of the Liberal Party in Western Australia


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