Evidence that the children of an Aboriginal family who were placed in care more the 40 years ago were abused, robbed of their culture and deprived of a relationship with their natural parents would be heard during a landmark Stolen Generation test case, the Supreme Court was told yesterday.
Opening the civil law suit brought by the Collard family against the State Government, lawyer Greg McIntyre said the case relied on the claim that the State had breached a fiduciary duty owed to the family after it removed the children from their parents' care.
The case has been brought by Donald and Sylvia Collard, and seven of their children who were removed from the family between 1958 and 1961.
Mr McIntyre said Mr and Mrs Collard were presented with "evil choices" and it was suggested that Sister Kate's Children's Home would be the best chance of keeping them together as a family.
But Mr McIntyre said the children were split up and some of the younger siblings were not aware they had brothers and sisters.
Mr McIntyre said allegations that one of the girls, Glenys Collard, had been sexually abused while in care would also be heard.
He said the case would boil down to the failure of the State to take into account the harm caused by separating the children.
The court was told by lawyer Rob Mitchell that the State would argue the children were neglected and at risk because of the nature of the accommodation with their parents.
Mr Mitchell said it would be argued that notwithstanding the risk of harm associated with removing the children, it was justified under legislation.
Aboriginal Legal Service of WA chief executive Dennis Eggington said the case was significant not only to the Collards, but to thousands of Aboriginal people.
"The effects of being forcibly removed from families has had heartbreaking intergenerational effects on so many of our people," he said.
"This is a historic day as we embark upon a hearing that has the capacity to right the wrongs of the past."