National Apology for Forced Adoptions

I was honoured to witness the Prime Minister Julia Gillard apologise to mothers, fathers and children for past forced adoption practices.

The apology was a fitting tribute to the families affected by these past practises. It directly acknowldged the wrongs of the past.

As the PM eloquently said in the formal motion ‘Today, this Parliament, on behalf of the Australian people, takes responsibility and apologises for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies, which created a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering.’

She also said in her own remarks. “This story had its beginnings in a wrongful belief that women could be separated from their babies and it would all be for the best.”

It is also important that this apology comes with a commitment of resources for counselling to support people impacted by these practices and to protect records that can help families piece their past together.

You can read the motion and the Prime Minister’s address here.

This national apology follows the great work of David Templeman MLA in leading the call for the WA apology. Western Australia was the first state to apologise to people affected by these terrible practices. He responded to the calls of brave women from Western Australia who shared their experiences and asked for acknowledgement of the wrongs done to them and their children.

Many brave people also shared their experiences before the Senate Committee that inquired into past adoption practices Australia wide and recommended this apology.

I was humbled to speak to the apology motion before the Senate where I had the opportunity to acknowledge the extreme trauma inflicted on mothers and children from these past adoption practices. These practices were extremely wrong. These women were intentionally degraded, lectured to, hectored, ignored, humiliated, separated and drugged in order to separate them from their children. You can watch my contribution here.

It is my hope that with today’s apology we can help lift the veil of secrecy on the past so that people affected by former adoption practices can continue to reach out to each other and affirm their family bonds.