FOR Ballarat’s Murray Legro, sorry can’t come soon enough.
As one of thousands of people forcibly removed from their parents, he also wants support for those who still bear the scars.
Today, he’s hoping to get both as he travels to Canberra to hear Prime Minister Julia Gillard give a formal apology to all affected by the practice of forced adoption.
“I’m a bit nervous and a bit eager. Hopefully there’s some validation. It’s a line in the sand where the nation is admitting it has done great wrongs,” Mr Legro said.
Between the 1950s and 1970s, about 150,000 Australian children were taken from their predominantly young and single mothers.
So far, state governments and church agencies have apologised for their role in the practice. Today, the federal government joins them.
Mr Legro is what’s known as a “late discovery adoptee”. He didn’t find out he was given up until he was 34.
His mother was coerced into adopting him out at six weeks. He never met her.
“You never completely heal because you never forget, but it’s lovely to know that your country accepts that things were wrong,” he said, adding that not all would accept the apology.
“We all have a bit of anger about what happened to us. Our life pattern was changed without anyone’s approval.”
The wording of today’s apology will be important, said Mr Legro.
As will the follow-up action for people still struggling to come to terms with what happened.
“I hope they will fund professional services to assist people get over their trauma on a needs basis, not on an entitlements basis. Some people have been severely damaged,” he said.
The people of Ballarat also need help, he believed. He said it was hard to know how many locals were affected because the topic was still a taboo.
“The very nature of our town is that people are a bit loathe to come out of the closet.
“Maybe this apology will say don’t be ashamed, it happened, it wasn’t your fault, the system was wrong.”
The apology will be delivered today at 11am in the Great Hall of Parliament House. A motion of apology will also be moved in the House of Representatives and Senate.
Mr Legro hopes it will finally allow the healing to begin.
“Some have lived in shame for all their lives,” said Mr Legro. “We want the apology to say don’t have any shame it’s not your fault.”