Last week, PIAC CEO Edward Santow appeared before the NSW Parliament’s inquiry into reparations for the Stolen Generations, calling for an independent tribunal to award a range of redress measures as a matter or urgency.
PIAC has advocated for a scheme over many years, most recently in a briefing sent to all SA Members of Parliament in relation to the Stolen Generations (Compensation) Bill 2014 (SA).
As a result of this legislation a compensation scheme commenced on 31 March, eight years after it was first suggested.
In his speech, Edward Santow emphasised the importance of acting quickly to establish a tribunal to provide reparations for the Stolen Generations in NSW:
‘The need to provide reparations has always been important for the Stolen Generations. It is now urgent as well, and there are four main reasons for that.
‘Firstly, it is absolutely clear that members of the stolen generations and their families have suffered terribly. They deserve and need redress.
‘Secondly, it is now almost 20 years since the Bringing Them Home report recommended very specific action. Over the past two decades there have been countless calls for action and the time for words has clearly passed. If all that this Committee produces is another report recommending further action and that report gathers dust, waiting many more years for implementation, then I fear the Parliament and the New South Wales Government will have let down members of the stolen generations yet again.
‘Thirdly, most tragically, as this Committee has already heard, members of the stolen generations are getting older and they are dying. It is truly unjust to expect them to continue to wait decades to have these terrible wrongs addressed.
‘And, finally, this is not simply a historical issue. The echoes of this tragic period in our history still resonate with young Aboriginal people today and indeed with PIAC’s young Aboriginal clients, many of whom have multiple and complex problemsfor instance, housing problems, discrimination, unnecessarily harmful contact with the police and an inability to obtain the basic building blocks necessary to function in modern Australia like getting a birth certificate or a driver’s licence. It is for those reasons that I submit on behalf of PIAC that there is a very urgent need to act.’
PIAC looks forward to the release of the Committee report, which is expected in mid-2016.