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Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families (1997)

Category: Event
Sub Category:Report
Location:Australia
Alternative Names:
  • Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families
  • URL: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/bth_report/index.html
    Summary Information:
    Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families (The Report) was the product of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families established by the Federal Attorney General in 1995. It was conducted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) and released in April 1997.
    Detailed Information:
    The Report is dedicated to those Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people whose lives were affected by forcible removal. Its terms of reference were to examine past laws, policies and practices which led to the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children, to evaluate the need for amendments to current laws, policies and practices regrading services, to consider possible compensation principles, and to study present laws, practices and policies regarding placement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children considering the principle of self-determination.

    The Inquiry visited all state and territory capitals, as well as most regional centres around Australia. It collected evidence in both public and private settings, from a range of groups including Indigenous people, representatives from government and church, former mission staff, foster and adoptive parents, doctors and health professionslas, academics and police. Written submissions were also made. The majority of hearings were conducted by the President of HREOC, Sir Ronald Wilson, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Dodson.

    777 people and organisations gave evidence or made submissions of which 535 were Indigenous people who related their experiences of removal.

    The Report concluded that, in the period from 1910 to 1970 when the practice of removal was at its peak, between 10 and 30 per cent of Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities. During that period, no Indigenous family remained unaffected. The Report emphasises that the devastation caused to the lives of Indigenous people cannot be addressed until the entire Australian community commits itself to reconciliation. The Inquiry made a comprehensive range of recommendations, as well as assessing principles of compensation and reparation. It recommended that reparation include:

    - Government funding for the recording of testimonies of Indigenous people;
    - An acknowledgment and apology by Australian Parliaments, police forces and churches;
    -Commemoration via a national Sorry Day for stolen children and their families;
    -Public education about the history of forcible removal and its continuing effects of families, commmunities and the forthcoming generation;
    -Funding for family reunion workers to assist people to go home to country and to tell their communities about the removal and its effects;
    -Establishment of language, culture and history centres to teach separated children and their decendants their language and history;
    -Certification by Indigenous organisations who assist people to find their families of those people as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders;
    -Compensation for unjustified forcible removal; and
    -Establishment of a National Compensation Fund.

    The Report concluded that Indigneous families and communities have endured gross violations of their human rights, the effects of which continue to be felt. Further, that these violations were an act of genocide, intended to destroy the Indigenous families, communities and cultures central to the heritage of Australia.

    Related Entries

    Agreement
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Framework Agreement (South Australia)
  • Memorandum of Understanding to Establish the Building Solid Families Program
  • Organisation
  • Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
  • Event
  • Apology to the Stolen Generation by the Kempsey Shire Council
  • Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples by the Parliament of Australia

  • References

    Report
    Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1997) Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families
    Resource
    Kempsey Shire Council (1999) Apology to the Stolen Generation

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