Survivors of Australia’s Stolen Generation launch lawsuit against State
Sydney, Australia, Apr 28 (EFE).- Thousands of survivors and descendants of the so-called Stolen Generation, Australian indigenous children who were forcibly removed from their families in the 20th century, have launched a class action suit against the State, their legal representatives announced Wednesday.
An estimated 100,000 indigenous Australian minors were uprooted from their families between 1910 and 1970 and turned over to caucasian families or institutions as part of a “White Australia” policy that sought to assimilate minorities.
The lawsuit was filed in the New South Wales (NSW) Supreme Court, according to a statement from Shine Lawyers, which did not specify the amount of compensation sought.
“We estimate that there are around 4,000-6,000 Northern Territory members of the Stolen Generation eligible to register for this class action. The Commonwealth [government] was responsible for tearing apart Indigenous families in the Territory and it’s up to the Commonwealth to make amends,” said lawyer Tristan Gaven.
The suit is focused on survivors from the Northern Territory (NT) because other Australian states and territories have taken steps to compensate people in their jurisdictions, Gaven said.
In 2008, then-prime minister Kevin Rudd made the first apology for the damage caused by the policy and in 2017 Malcolm Turnbull again apologized on behalf of the government upon receiving a report on the persistence of trauma among survivors.
Survivor Heather Alley was born in the Roper River Mission in the NT. In 1924 at the age of nine, she was removed from her mother in the town of Mataranka and taken to Mulgoa in NSW. After finding her way back home, she was transferred to a hostel in Alice Springs where she was subjected to flogging.
“I couldn’t understand why this was allowed to happen and I was very broken for many years,” the now 84-year-old said in the statement, recalling that after her mother died, it took “thirty years to find the strength to even say her name. That’s how much the loss of her shook me.”
“My mother never knew her mother. They’ve wiped away entire generations, like they never existed,” Alley said.
Australia’s First Nations people have been subjected to mistreatment since colonization. In addition to being dispossessed of their lands and systematically discriminated against, many live in poverty and are subject to glaring inequality.
The country’s Constitution, which dates back to 1901, does not mention or recognize Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders as the first inhabitants of the country. They represent 3.3 percent of the 25 million population. EFE