Apology to the Forgotten Australians and former child migrants – Radio Interview, AM, ABC Radio
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TONY EASTLEY: The Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has been instrumental in achieving today’s apology. She’s worked closely with groups representing the Forgotten Australians for many years.
But the Minister says the issue of compensation is something for the states concerned and institutions that are involved.
Jenny Macklin is speaking here with Sabra Lane.
SABRA LANE: The Prime Minister will say the word ‘sorry’. What else will he say?
JENNY MACKLIN: He will first of all talk about the need to acknowledge what happened, to say that things that were done in the name of caring for children caused terrible harm, terrible harm that people have carried with them all of their lives.
And also, I think, one of the things that’s really been reinforced to me that people are hoping to hear from the Prime Minister is him speak to their families, to help their families understand how it is that Forgotten Australians are the way they are.
SABRA LANE: Some advocates for the Forgotten Australians say there should be compensation. What’s your view?
JENNY MACKLIN: That’s right, that there are a range of views. We know that some people want compensation. Others really don’t. They want the acknowledgement. But I acknowledge the range of views.
We’ve made it clear that we won’t be providing compensation but we do think that there’s a number of things that we can do. We’ve provided some support already for counselling services, to help people find their families. We know that there’s more that we can do and we’re continuing to talk with the different representative groups about some of the things that we can so that will assist people.
And once again talking with people themselves, the importance of counselling, the importance of different ways that they can be helped to heal, different ways that they can be helped to find their families. For many people, they still haven’t found their siblings, their parents, or they find their parents, and of course, it can be too late. The parents may have passed away.
So this is a very important issue for people. That doesn’t always work either, of course. People find their families, find their siblings and the relationships have been so severed it’s just too difficult to reconnect. So it’s very different for different people.
SABRA LANE: The Irish set up a trust scheme and I think only something like only 10 per cent of the estimated children who went through care actually claimed on that scheme. So you’ve not even considered something similar here in Australia?
JENNY MACKLIN: The responsibility lies with either the states or with the individual providers. And of course, some of the states have already provided redress schemes, some of the providers; some of the churches have also provided compensation or redress schemes. As you say, some people have claimed the money, others don’t want the money.
One of the other strong messages to us as policymakers is that we do need strong out-of-home care standards because there will always be children who need to be removed from their families in instances of abuse or serious neglect. We have agreed with the states and territories that we will develop national out-of-home care standards. That work is now underway, it’s never been done before and this will just help drive our determination harder.
TONY EASTLEY: The Families Minister Jenny Macklin, speaking there with Sabra Lane.