NSW Stolen Generation survivors speak out

·2-min read

Survivors of the Stolen Generations have called on NSW politicians to learn from the past and stop the removal of Indigenous children from their families.

It's 25 years since then-premier Bob Carr apologised to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the NSW government, with the bipartisan support of then-opposition leader Peter Collins.

Indigenous children were taken from their mothers and families from the 1920s through to 1969 via formal government policy.

Survivors of the Stolen Generation told the NSW parliament they believe the practise continues.

"I want to say on behalf of our grandmothers, our mothers, stop removing our children," Aunty Lorraine Peeters told parliament on Tuesday.

"You are just recycling the trauma and contributing to intergenerational trauma. It needs to stop. We need to break the cycle and continue to close the gap.

"I cannot understand how someone could take a child from its mother. Doesn't it make sense to fix up the parent so the child can stay with the family?"

Ms Peeters said the system should be dismantled and rebuilt to "embrace survivor-led solutions which are truth healing and trauma-informed care".

Uncle James Michael "Widdy" Welsh, a survivor or Kinchela Boys Home, was removed from his mother when he was eight, along with seven other boys.

His eldest son was also taken in 1971.

"When you take children, and you starve them, and flog them, and abuse them, you create what happened up here," he said pointing to his head.

He urged the government to make further commitments to unfinished business with Stolen Generations to ensure more people were not left behind.

Premier Dominic Perrottet acknowledged the government's role in the continued pain felt by Indigenous people and said pursuing equality was his priority.

He committed $15.3 million over four years to establish memorials at former children's homes in Bomaderry, Cootamundra, Kinchela and Keller House in North Parramatta.

"Today the a gap in basic living standards that First Nations people endure remains completely unacceptable," Mr Perrottet said.

"We must act with urgency to secure all indigenous Australians true equality and true opportunity, economic opportunity, social opportunity and political opportunity.

"This is for me a personal priority."

NSW Labor Leader Chris Minns said the 1997 apology had multiple detractors, who made hurtful claims Stolen Generation children were saved, or that claims of abuse were concocted.

"This parliament acknowledged the role it play in separating Aboriginal children from their families - how for a century this parliament enacted laws which inflicted grief, suffering, and humiliation on Indigenous Australians," he said.

Labor was committed to a continued dialogue with First Nations people, and developing a process of treaty to build on the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

Mr Minns also called on the parliament to support the newly-elected federal Labor government as it worked to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.

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