CAMPAIGNERS for Victorians affected by past forced adoption measures welcomed an official apology from Parliament yesterday as an historic moment of healing.
Premier Ted Baillieu, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews and other parliamentarians used a special joint-sitting to apologise to those harmed by “disgraceful, ill-conceived” past adoption practices that forcibly removed tens of thousands of babies from their mothers.
“The blame is heartbreaking and the resentment is a burden of unspeakable hardship ... the basis of these actions remains... wrong, disgraceful, ill-conceived and in some cases illegal,” Mr Baillieu said.
His apology for the trauma experienced by victims of past adoption practices had special meaning for outgoing City of Ballarat councillor Cheryl Bromfield 13 years after the death of her sister Charmaine Price.
Ms Price was violently raped when she was 18 and was later forced to give up her twin babies for fear of losing her first child.
She spent years campaigning for an official apology and recognition before her death in 1999.
“You could say it ruined her life – or ruined an aspect of her life,” Cr Bromfield said.
“She made it her mission to have it acknowledged that she didn’t voluntarily give up her children and nor did those thousands of other women all around Australia.”
Cr Bromfield said Victorian women who had their babies taken from them deserved for their trauma to be formally recognised by Parliament and that family and friends of Ms Price would be thinking of her.
“Today and every day I am very proud of Charmaine because she has made such a difference on this important issue,” she said.
“Part of the saddnes is that the family never expressed that we were so proud of her.”
A Senate inquiry this year heard that some women were shackled to beds as their children were taken from them in hospitals and care homes.
An estimated 150,000 Australian babies born between the 1950s and 70s were taken from their mostly young and single mothers.
Premiers in others states have already made formal apologies to women who were victims of forced adoptions.