Centuries after being forcibly removed from their land, the “Stolen Generations” in Australia will receive reparations and formal acknowledgment for the trauma they’ve endured.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Commonwealth’s Closing the Gap Implementation Plan on Thursday which will disperse $378.6 million over five years to Australia’s indigenous communities.
The plan’s purpose is “to say formally, not just that we’re deeply sorry for what happened, but that we will take responsibility for it,” Morrison said in front of Parliament.
The Stolen Generation refers to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people families removed from the Commonwealth territories – the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, and Jervis Bay. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are related to those who already inhabited Australia when Britain began colonizing the continent in 1788.
There were an estimated 33,600 Stolen Generation survivors in 2019, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The redress scheme will offer a one-time payment of $55,000 dollars “in recognition of the harm caused by the forced removal.” To facilitate healing, a one-time payment of $7,000 will be offered for healing assistance.
The scheme will also provide each survivor a chance to confidentially relay their story about the forced removal to a senior officer within the government. Survivors can also receive a “face-to-face or written apology for their removal and resulting trauma,” according to the press release from the prime minister.
Tumultuous past:Australian police chief apologizes to indigenous people
‘Unthinkable loss’:Mass grave with remains of 215 children found at Indigenous school in Canada
“The scheme is practical support for stolen generation survivors to address the often complex health and economic needs that are evidence to be a result of forced removal and forced removal alone,” Fiona Cornfort, CEO of the Healing Foundation, a representative group for some members of the Stolen Generation said in a video. “Reparations to acknowledge that truth is important.”
Both The Healing Foundation and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare have monitored the lasting effects of the forced removal on the Stolen Generation. A study conducted by AIHW found 88% of Stolen Generation survivors had not completed Year 12 level of schooling and 66% did not own a home.
Of the survivors, 43% had days without money for basic living expenses, 43% have been diagnosed with a mental health condition and 32% experienced discrimination.
Cornfort said while the reparations are a great step, it is not “everything” and more work is needed in the path to healing for the Stolen Generation.
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda