Should the Australian government compensate the Stolen Generations?

14 Feb

It is an encouraging first step for the Rudd government to make a formal apology to the Aboriginal community on past government’s successive wrongdoings, especially on the ‘Stolen Generations’ – a policy in which thousands of black and mixed children are forcibly removed from their biological family (which lasted from the 19th century to late 1960s).

While the apology should be lauded, the government has stopped short of monetary compensation, which some Aboriginal leaders, have called, a “cut-price sorry”.

Says a respected Aboriginal leader, Noel Pearson, “Blackfellas will get the words, the whitefellas keep the money.”

In this regard, human rights NGO, Amnesty International Australia, supports the 54 recommendations of the 1997, ‘Bringing Them Home’ report which includes, ‘restitution, rehabilitation, guarantees against repetition and compensation’.

In ‘Bringing Them Home’, on guarantees against repetition, it specifically proposes, ‘

That State and Territory Governments ensure that primary and secondary school curricula include substantial compulsory modules on the history and continuing effects of forcible removal;

That the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies be funded by the Commonwealth to develop these modules;

That all professionals who work with Indigenous children, families and communities receive in-service training about the history and effects of forcible removal;

That all under-graduates and trainees in relevant professions receive, as part of their core curriculum, education about the history and effects of forcible removal.

On monetary compensation, amongst other recommendations, it suggested,’

the Council of Australian Governments establish a Board to administer the National Compensation Fund; that the Board be constituted by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people appointed in consultation with Indigenous organisations in each State and Territory having particular responsibilities to people forcibly removed in childhood and their families. That the majority of members be Indigenous people and that the Board be chaired by an Indigenous person.’

The issue of monetary compensation is hotly debated.

It is argued that monetary compensation poses an unfair tax burden to current working Australians, of whom, many, are not directly responsible for past government’s racist policies. Moreover, money used for compensation, could better be used for educational efforts to reduce socio and institutional racism and prevention of future discriminatory racist policies.



1. Australia apology to Aborigines, BBC, 13 February 2008

2. Apology: An essential first step, Amnesty International Australia, 13 February 2008

3. Bringing them Home, Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, April 1997


One Response to “Should the Australian government compensate the Stolen Generations?”

  1. Aaron Wakling February 14, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Aaron Wakling

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