Saturday, March 3, 2012

Parliamentary inquiry calls for Australian governments to apologise over forced adoptions

Parliamentary inquiry calls for Australian governments to apologise over forced adoptions
AUSTRALIAN governments must formally apologise to mothers and children who were victims of past forced adoption practices, a parliamentary inquiry has recommended.
Between the 1950s and 1970s, about 150,000 Australian unwed mothers had their babies taken against their will by churches and adoption agencies.

The report by a Senate inquiry investigating the Commonwealth government's involvement in past forced adoption practices was tabled in the upper house on Wednesday with 20 recommendations.

The committee recommended a formal Commonwealth government apology, as well as similar statements from state and territory governments and non-government institutions involved.

Australian Greens senator Rachel Siewert, who chaired the inquiry, broke down as she tabled the report.

"This was a really hard, emotional inquiry,'' she s
Mums want apology on adoptions
"You couldn't help but take the stories to heart.''
The senator recalled a mother telling her about the joy of feeling her baby inside her body but the pain of knowing he or she would immediately be taken away at birth.

Labor senator Claire Moore told the chamber people had to consider in retrospect whether the adoptions had been in the best interests of children and parents.
"In many cases, the parents were threatened with the law of the day,'' she said.
The inquiry report's release was only the first step.
"The history ... will now be known and acknowledged,'' she said.
Senator Moore said one of the most poignant moments of the inquiry was a woman telling senators all she wanted was for her son to know she loved him and had not given him away.
"To the people caught up in the horror of this history, we can now call it a horror and not pretend it didn't happen,'' Senator Moore said.
Liberal senator Sue Boyce said the inquiry took 18 months because of the sheer volume of information and people wanting to tell their stories.

She shared the story of a woman searching for her son. When the woman was 17 and pregnant, her mother had told her to "come home without that 'thing' or don't come home at all''.
In other cases women were drugged or smacked across the face, and their partners threatened with prosecution for carnal knowledge.
"We can't claim we didn't know what was going on,'' Senator Boyce said.
The Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne was heavily criticised in an ABC TV Four Corners report on Monday. The hospital, in a submission to the inquiry, said it had no evidence of illegal practices.
Senator Boyce said the hospital should take note of eyewitness accounts from nurses who gave evidence about the brutality of forced adoptions undertaken there.

Labor senator Carol Brown said women had been tricked into signing adoption papers and physically shackled to hospital beds.
She said the pain of women affected was "unimaginable''.
"Doctors, nurses and midwives showed no respect to these woman. They were taunted about their unwed status.''
Single-parent women were pushed toward adoption as their only legitimate choice, she said.
"Once babies were born the clean-break theory was implemented.''

Senator Brown said women were not allowed to hold their babies, not told the gender of their child, and given drugs to dry up their breast milk.
She quoted testimony from a Tasmanian mother, who said: "They created an unbalance of power... they did not hear or see me. I was nothing or no one. I was guilty of nothing, but made to feel ashamed.''
Many nurses and social workers now looked back on the practices with anxiety.
Catholic Health Australia admitted being involved in past forced adoptions and apologised to victims in July last year.
Chief executive Martin Laverty encouraged other organisations to apologise and supported the recommendations.
"We think they are concrete steps that can help those affected by past adoption practices move towards healing,'' he said.
"This report that is many years in the making must now not sit on the shelf.''
About 100 victims of past forced adoption practices were in the Senate public gallery. Many cried out and clapped during speeches.
The Courier Mail online, posted 29/02/2012 at 3.53pm.


Anonymous said...

I tried for forty-five years to tell others, yet no-one listened. No-one wanted to know. I guess we are now politically viable. All of the recommendations are about funding programs, advancing awareness, providing counsellors (45 years after the event). This designed to benefit government and perpetrators not us mothers.
Give me back my baby. What price human life. You stole a human life from me.

Anonymous said...

May did NOT cry out and clap during the speeches. ONE woman let out 2 cries. Senate clapped us mothers. We didnot clap them. A few hands clapping did not return my child's life to me.

Anonymous said...

No one listened and I wonder if they really are now. All the enquiries seem like the usual political white wash.
I make no apologies for still feeling angry at what was done to my and my son.
What price human life indeed.

How many of our children were lied to and told that we 'gave them away'.
How many of us have struggled with relationships as a directy result of the deep trauma we suffered and still suffer?
Apologies are are ';feel good' for pollies. We are still mostly lonely voices.