Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Stolen generation compensation ruled out

A FEDERAL parliamentary committee has recommended a "healing" fund be set up to help members of the stolen generations, but knocked back the suggestion of compensation payments.

The Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee was investigating a bill put forward by Democrat senator Andrew Bartlett which proposed paying lump sums to members of the stolen generations.

The healing fund should be used for health, education, counselling, family support and funeral services for surviving members, the committee report said. But it noted that in recommending against compensation it was going against the wishes of most people it heard from during the investigation.

"The overwhelming majority of evidence received by the committee applauded Senator Bartlett's initiative in introducing the bill, and expressed broad support for the provision of monetary compensation to the stolen generation. Many of those who supported the bill recognised its symbolism as an acknowledgment of the harm incurred by members of the stolen generation and the importance of providing appropriate redress for that harm," the report noted.

The Government has defied calls for compensation made by members of the stolen generations, instead pointing to the formal apology it made this year and to funding for programs to improve education, health and employment for indigenous people.

Senator Bartlett said he was disappointed by the decision but happy the issue was "back on the political agenda".

Healing fund slammed as 'trinkets and beads'

A member of the Stolen Generations has slammed a parliamentary committee's decision to establish a "healing fund" rather than provide compensation payments.

The bill initially put forward by Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett proposed lump sum payments to members of the Stolen Generations.

But the committee instead endorsed a "healing fund" to provide health, education and counselling services.

Indigenous businesswoman Sharon Firebrace says she believes the Government is avoiding costly compensation.

"I still don't believe it actually addresses the immediate compensation to the individual who has suffered," she said.

"It's pain and suffering, it's loss of culture and that has got to be recompensed or compensated back to the individual."

She says she is disappointed that the committee stopped short of endorsing compensation payments.

"I just think it's a tricky way of tricking Aboriginal people," she said.

"As I said, it's trinkets and beads. I think it's a cheap way for the government to get out of costly compensation."

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