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Issue #1437      25 November 2009

Centre in push for reparation tribunal

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has renewed calls for a tribunal to oversee reparations for members of the Stolen Generations. PIAC has released a draft Stolen Generations reparations tribunal bill in support of the call.

The establishment of an Indigenous Reparations Tribunal is the key recommendation of a PIAC updated report. The bill details the functions and powers of such a tribunal and provides eligibility criteria for compensation. Reparations would be funded by contributions from state, federal and territory governments and from church organisations involved in administering forcible removal policies.

The updated report, Restoring Identity, addresses the failure of governments and churches to provide reparations as previously recommended by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma launched it last week.

PIAC chief executive officer Robin Banks said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations recognised the injustices perpetuated against children, and gave renewed optimism for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“All Australian parliaments have now made formal apologies to the Stolen Generations,” she said. “This is an important first step. Other essential features of reparation are guarantees against repetition, measures of restitution and rehabilitation, and monetary compensation.”

Ms Banks said an agreement between the Canadian government and its indigenous citizens ended many years of damaging litigation. “PIAC’s Reparations Tribunal model provides a way to avoid the harm to claimants and waste of public money that accompanies litigation,” she said.

“The Reparations Tribunal model provides a comprehensive response to the needs of all members of the Stolen Generations, their families and communities and enables the Australian community to take the next step toward reconciliation.”

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