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The 'Sorry Again' speach but still no compensation to First Nations people


Video Includes comments from Sam Watson

Jeremy Geia, NITV SBS News Online 21 March 2013

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the apology to the Stolen Generations. Sam Watson of Link Up Queensland says the illegal removal and forced adoption will result in legal action.
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Five years after the apology to the Stolen Generations, Indigenous Australians have welcomed the Prime Minister's apology over decades of forced adoptions separating hundreds of thousands of parents and children.

Tens of thousands of people were illegally taken from their parents and they included many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

"Today, this Parliament, on behalf of the Australian people, takes responsibility and apologises for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies, which created a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering,” began the Prime Minister’s speech.

For Christine Doolan, today's apology helped put back the pieces.

"I think what it was basically saying was the reason why we’re all here today is because we’re living proof that it happened.”

From the 1950s to the 1970s around 50,000 un-married mothers had their babies taken away.

Women were forced to sign adoption papers, drugged and even physically chained to their hospital beds to stop them bonding with their babies.

Leonie Pope was taken from her mother at birth and was denied her culture.

"I was then taken to Wales in the UK, I packed my life and my culture was totally disrupted. I came back to Australia five years ago with my three children. I’ve tried to live my life. It’s almost like re-growing."

This year marks the fithth anniversary of the apology to the Stolen Generations.

Sam Watson of Link Up Queensland says the illegal removal and forced adoption will result in legal action.

"There has to be," he told NITV. "You cannot measure the pain or the trauma of what these people were subjected to but you can at least pay them a dollar amount to assist them to mend their lives.”

The federal government has committed $11.5 million to assist the victims of forced adoptions find their families and counselling.

Abbott heckled during adoption apology

AAP SBS News Online 21 MAR 2013

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has faced heckling from victims of past forced adoption practices for using "insensitive language" during a national apology.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard made the apology at a special ceremony attended by more than 800 hundred people, including women who were betrayed by a system that decided their children were better off elsewhere.

"No collection of words alone can undo all this damage ... or give back childhoods that were robbed of joy and laughter," Ms Gillard told those gathered at Parliament House in Canberra.

"Or make amends for the birthdays and Christmases and Mother's or Father's Days that only brought a fresh wave of grief and loss."

By saying sorry "we can correct the historical record".

Ms Gillard's speech won a standing ovation.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told the story of his former girlfriend Kathy Donnelly, who gave birth out of wedlock in 1977 to a son who Mr Abbott for years believed he had fathered.

"There is no stronger bond than that between mother and child," he said.

"There are no first- or second-class mothers ... and every mother has the right to raise her child - we know it now and we should have known it then.

"We were hard hearted and we were judgmental. That's why we should apologise.

"We did inflict pain on those we loved."

A number of women began yelling at Mr Abbott when he used the words "birth parents" and referred to current adoption practices.

"We honour the birth parents, including fathers, who have always loved their children," he said.

Mr Abbott acknowledged the efforts of adoptive parents, as those in the audience continued to shout.

"I hear what you are saying ... I honour the parents, who have always loved their children," he said.

"The last thing I would wish to do is cause pain to people who have suffered too much pain already.

"I am happy to retract it," he said.

In some quarters, the term "birth parent" is deemed insensitive to women who relinquished their children under difficult circumstances.

Murray Legro, from Ballarat, who was adopted as a baby, said Ms Gillard's words had touched everyone's hearts but Mr Abbott had not hit the right note.

"When he started bringing up matters that were not relevant, today like current adoption policies, like adoptive parents ... today was about what happened in the past," Mr Legro told AAP.

Louise Burmester, who found out she was adopted at age 46, attended with her biological mother Ingrid.

"Julia Gillard gave a very heartfelt apology," Mrs Burmester said.

"Tony Abbott didn't do his research. He offended so many people, the way he used certain words."

From the 1950s to the 1970s an estimated 150,000 unwed Australian mothers had their babies forcibly adopted under a practice sanctioned by governments, churches, hospitals, charities and bureaucrats.

Some women were tricked into signing adoption papers, drugged and physically shackled to hospital beds.