A joint statement from The Healing Foundation Board Chair, Professor Steve Larkin and CEO, Shannan Dodson

With the recent Stolen Wages Settlement in Western Australia, now is the time to get it right on Stolen Generations redress

The Healing Foundation welcomes the announcement that the Western Australian Government has reached a settlement on Stolen Wages for Aboriginal workers. While First Nations workers and their families can never be fully compensated for what was stolen from them across their working lives, this is an important step in recognising the injustice of past practices, and in healing for First Nations people.

But the buck does not stop here. With this recognition, now is the time for the Western Australian government to act on redress for Stolen Generations survivors. The time is now, we cannot wait. Many survivors are passing away before seeing this justice.

Redress, including financial compensation, for Stolen Generations was first called for in Bringing Them Home report more than 25 years ago. Western Australian survivors and their families are still waiting despite more than half of the state’s First Nations population being descended from children who were removed.

Just like stolen wages, policies of forced removals created suffering and intergenerational disadvantage for First Nations people and recognising this through responsive redress schemes is crucial to healing. But the process must be right.

There have been important precedents set and learnings by other jurisdictions – including the Victorian Stolen Generations Reparation Package, the New South Wales Reparations Scheme, and the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme.

What we know from past schemes is the importance of co-designed, survivor-led processes to ensure claimants have adequate time, information, and support. Redress must be implemented under the premise of doing no more harm, and survivors and their families must have access to culturally appropriate wrap around services including financial counselling and healing programs.

Public recognition of past injustice is important, and we applaud the courage and the hard work of the claimants in bringing about this result. It is a shame that it took a class action to force the government to act.

We reiterate our call that proactive steps be taken to ensure redress for Stolen Generations survivors happens as a matter of urgency. Survivors are ageing and facing complex health – after carrying a trauma burden through their lives it should not be up to them to demand action.

If the Western Australian Government is serious about reconciliation, then redress for Stolen Generations must be a priority.

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