Sunday, July 1, 2012

The ALAS Connection.

It is important, when bathing in the apparent success of a campaign to bring the Federal Government to acknowledgement of its past negligence with respect to a marginalized group of its citizens, that the chronology of events be acknowledged as well.

Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Indigenous Australians affected all the “white mothers” profoundly- it was yet another occasion where the white girls whose babies were plundered for the infertile of Australia, were air-brushed over as non-existent, and their pain was of no con sequence.

In 2008, after returning home from the 9th Australian Conference on Adoption where I was a Keynote Speaker, on behalf of the mothers whose babies were taken, I immersed myself in a week of prayerful consideration, meditation, and heart focus on the act of Martin Luther who nailed his declaration to door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg and thereby united all like minded clergy. The Reformation followed. We needed a similar happening.

The “Declaration of Profound Loss” presented itself to me after a week of deep meditation. It became the means of uniting all the “white “support groups of Australia under one banner.

I showed it to Christine Cole, intoto, and asked if she thought all the groups, both mothers and there separated babies, would be able to come together and sign on their group as one in agreement with the ethos of the Declaration.

The first name on the Declaration is mine, and if you look carefully, you will see the date next to my name on the bottom of the Declaration.

Christine began presenting the Declaration to the different support groups in 2009, and she asked their spokespersons if their groups were desirous of an Apology from the Federal Government, and would they be prepared to “sign” under the title of “The Apology Alliance” and receive emails.

 The ALAS Queensland group had already began negotiations for our meetings at R.B.W.H (as I was aware other groups had this privilege in the past) and an apology from the Hospital Administration regarding the unlawful treatment of single mothers during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Professor Ian Jones was unaware of the way hospital staff treated, discriminated against, and assaulted the young unmarried pregnant women, before his time as CEO. I had never been treated badly at the RBWH, as I was married. But the other women in the negotiating team were treated the same way I was treated at the Hornsby Hospital Sydney as an unmarried mother in 1963.

The respectful negotiations continued for four months, until the wording was acceptable to Professor Jones, and the ALAS negotiators was reached, and signed off by him on the 19th May 2009.

 This was the first apology in the world to patients who had been young single pregnant women, who had received “ill treatment” at a large Government Hospital, was revolutionary. It had never been heard of. It was referred to as, “the spark that lit the fire”.

It changed the women’s perception of themselves. Even women who had not given birth at the Royal Brisbane and women’s Hospital were changed by Professor Jones very public affirmation of the historical fact.

Professor Jones was quizzed on his role by Kim Hames, Colin Barnett (West Australian Parliament) and Claire Moore,(Queensland Senator) to name a few. He was able to relate the nature of the negotiating process that he underwent with the ALAS negotiating team.  The ultimate outcome had been all good, both for women and the Hospital.  Professor Jones is very proud of his leadership role.

The next generation is very safe in his hands, as are all single pregnant women who find themselves giving birth at “The Royal”.

Jan Kashin.

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