Ballarat’s members of the Stolen Generations were acknowledged as Child and Family Services Ballarat marked the 10th anniversary of the national apology.
The smoking ceremony and morning tea at Ludbrook House offered a chance to reflect on the significance of the apology and the measures needed to ensure commitments made were carried out.
Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative attended the event with its chief executive Karen Heap acknowledging the deep significance of the day for the Indigenous community in the broader Ballarat area.
“This is such an important occasion,” she said.
“There are many current members of the regional Ballarat Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community who were either members of the Stolen Generations themselves, or have family members who were affected.
“The broader community may not be aware that many of the Stolen children who were removed from families all around Victoria, and even interstate, were brought here to the Ballarat Orphanage.”
Ms Heap said many BADAC programs helped to support members of the Stolen Generations.
“These Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have grown up without knowing their families, their culture, their language or where they belong,” she said.
“Many have stayed in Ballarat and brought up their own families here. The Stolen Generations people are here and part of our community.”
BADAC is a provider of services and programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the broader Ballarat region. It offers a full medical clinic along with allied care, family support, education and early years programs.
Meanwhile, Shadow Minister for Health and Ballarat MP Catherine King has called for more action, including a Stolen Generations Compensation Fund.
“Saying sorry was the absolutely right thing to do,” she said.
“But the nation has a responsibility to practically recognise the damage done and to compensate for the serious injustices carried out in our name.”
Ms King said the Labor government would provide $10 million in funding for the Healing Foundation to help descendants of members of the Stolen Generations.
It would also establish and convene a national summit on the First Nations children.