Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Doorstop, National Museum of Australia, Canberra

E & OE – Proof only

JENNY MACKLIN: First of all, I’d like to acknowledge all of the representatives of the Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants and to thank all of them for being here today. Most of all to thank them for their extraordinary generosity in making this exhibition happen. It wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t prepared to speak, if they weren’t prepared to tell their stories that are just so, so important but so difficult to be told and heard. I’d also like to thank and congratulate everybody here at the Museum. It is a very, very moving exhibition and we do recognise just how important it is that this story be told. Thank you.

Although we don’t have people from the National Library here with us today, I do want to take this opportunity to also thank people from the National Library and of course, thank once again, those members of the Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants who have told their oral histories to people at the National Library. They too, will make sure that these stories will live forever and that is so important. We never, ever, want to see the cruelty that happened to these children ever happen again. Andrew.

ANDREW SAYERS: Thank you Minister. We at the National Museum of Australia are very happy to be able to tell a story, a very important story, in this exhibition. And it is the story of Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants, and representatives of whom are behind me here today. And I would like to thank everybody who’s given their stories to this exhibition with such generosity and of trust in the National Museum. This I think is one of the most important exhibitions the National Museum has mounted because it is telling a story which is so tremendously important to Australia’s history.

Jay Arthur and Adele Chynoweth are two curators who worked on this exhibition for two years and have put together an exhibition which is profound and moving, and I hope is visited by a great many Australians, not only here in Canberra but across Australia.

So since it is your story and I’d like to introduce our guests here today, Joanna Penglase who is the Co-Founder of the Care Leavers Australia Network and historian and author who’s done a tremendous amount to tell these stories and has assisted enormously in the exhibition. Also, Jim Luce who is the President of Care Leavers Australia Network, thank you Jim. Caroline Carroll who is the Chair of the Alliance of Forgotten Australians, thank you very much Caroline. And Harold Haig, thank you. Harold is on the International Association of Former Child Migrants and their Families.

This exhibition is the National Museum’s opportunity to assist in you telling your stories and so thank you very much.

JENNY MACKLIN: Anyone want to say something?

JOANNA PENGLASE: Thank you to the Museum for being worthy of the trust that we put in you. It’s the most wonderful exhibition and very moving. I started researching this history just over twenty years ago and nobody knew what I was talking about, and over the years it’s grown from me to come to life. It’s one of our most hidden subterranean history and it’s extraordinary that today we have an exhibition in the National Museum of Australia. That is truly extraordinary and even we who lived it and we who’ve researched it and talked about it for all these years, even we still find it hard to believe that these things happened. Thank you very much, I won’t say anymore and thank you Minister Macklin.

JOURNALIST: Minister you seem quite moved by this exhibit and you’ve spoken about the importance of history not repeating itself, do you think that there is a danger or a possibility that in future decades to come your ministerial counterpart will be opening an exhibit about asylum seekers in mandatory detention under a Rudd, Gillard and Howard Governments?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think this exhibition demonstrates to each and everyone of us why it is critical to always, always make sure that children are treated with the utmost love and care and respect. That’s what this exhibition reminds us of and certainly something that I’m determined to do.

JOURNALIST: You didn’t answer the question.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I’m not going into history, I’m talking about what’s so significant from today and what it means to me.

JOURNALIST: Can I get your thoughts on uranium mining, is that a …

JENNY MACKLIN: I don’t intend to talk about those matters today. We’ve just seen a very, very significant exhibition, very important to the people who were with me today. It’s certainly not appropriate to talk about those matters here.