Reparations a matter of ‘unfinished business’ says Tom Calma

Reparations for Australia’s stolen generations are a matter of ‘unfinished business’, says the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mr Tom Calma.

Commissioner Calma tomorrow launches a report from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) that calls for the establishment of an Indigenous Reparations Tribunal for the Stolen Generations.

The PIAC report, Restoring Identity, addresses the failure of governments and churches to provide reparations as previously recommended by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families in its Bringing them home report.

Restoring Identity is an important piece of work in the healing and development of Australia,’ Mr Calma said. ‘The report ensures that the struggles our peoples have endured as a result of past government policies and practices of the forcible removal or our children from our families, are not forgotten.

‘Despite the fact that all Australian Parliaments have now made formal apologies and all of the major denominational churches in Australia have offered apologies to the Stolen Generations, a reparations package that guarantees against repetition and that provides for measures of restitution and rehabilitation, and monetary compensation remains a matter of unfinished business.

‘I strongly urge all governments, churches and other stakeholders to adopt and commit to the national Reparations Tribunal model recommended by PIAC and to consider a collective approach that adequately addresses the experiences of the Stolen Generations nationwide,’ Mr Calma said.

Under the Restoring Identity proposal, reparations would be funded by contributions from state, federal and territory governments and from church organisations involved in forcible removal policies.

PIAC Chief Executive Officer, Ms Robin Banks, said the reparations model provides a way to avoid the harm to claimants and waste of public money that accompanies litigation.

‘PIAC’s Reparations Tribunal model provides a comprehensive response to the needs of all members of the Stolen Generations, their families and communities and enables the Australian community to take the next step toward reconciliation,’ Ms Banks said.

MEDIA ALERT: Mr Tom Calma launches Restoring Identity at Tranby House in Sydney on Friday 20 November 2009 at 11.30am. Media are welcome to attend. The report can be downloaded here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,

Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169

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