23 years on Stolen Generations Report still a “living” document

Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency

On the 26th of May 1997 the landmark Bringing them Home report was tabled in federal parliament. Bringing them Home is the final report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families and was conducted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission between 1995 and 1997.

Twenty-three years on and most of the Bringing Them Home recommendations remain unimplemented.

However, here in Victoria, the State Government announced in mid-March that it would create a Redress Scheme for the Stolen Generations committing $10 millions towards its set-up and operations.

Speaking in Melbourne at an online event for Stolen Generations on National Sorry Day, CEO of VACCA Professor Muriel Bamblett AO said, “The announcement of the Victorian Redress Scheme was wonderful news. It is something that VACCA, the Stolen Generations and other organizations and services have been calling for since the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament on this day 26th May in 1997, 23 years ago today. I look forward to the development of the scheme over the coming months and to its implementation and commencement in 2021.”

Prof Bamblett added, “Bringing Them Home is not just a report. It is the testimony of hundreds of stolen generations, many of whom had never spoken of their grief and suffering before. It has stayed alive as a record of their stories, because we have a connection to them and the grief and suffering they endured. It is part of every Aboriginal person and their family.

In moving ahead, each year on this day we commemorate National Sorry Day not just because the report was launched on this day but because we have an unwritten commitment to our people, the stolen generations, that their stories will forever be a part of our communities’ stories. We also commit to continue working towards bringing them home and supporting them in their efforts to do so and towards justice for them.

Part of ensuring justice is done will be to pursue the implementation of the recommendations of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Inquiry which found that Australia had breached its’ own commitment to the Genocide Convention and had committed gross breaches of human rights by removing Aboriginal children.

In the immortal words of Uncle Archie Roach, a stolen generation member himself, in his song “Took the children away” he sings:

One sweet day all the children came back

The children come back

The children come back

Back where their hearts grow strong

Back where they all belong

The children came back

Said the children come back

The children come back

Back where they understand

Back to their mother’s land

The children come back

Back to their mother

Back to their father

Back to their sister

Back to their brother

Back to their people

Back to their land

All the children come back

The children come back

The children come back

Yes I came back.

/Public Release.