The Guardian April 5, 2000


"Bereft of human decency"

Dr Naomi Mayers OAM, Chairperson of the Aboriginal Health and Medical 
Research Council of NSW, described the reckless remarks of Prime Minister 
John Howard and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs John Herron that "there was 
never a generation of stolen children", as callous and misguided.

In a statement Dr Mayers said: "The Australian Government's cruel and 
inhumane practice of forcibly removing Aboriginal children from their 
families is well documented and acknowledged to have been based on 
assimilationist policies aimed at eradicating Aboriginal people as a race.

"The trauma for thousands of Aboriginal children and their families 
continues to impact upon the health and well being of the Aboriginal 
community to this day.

"To suggest that their stories were emotive and exaggerated is both 
erroneous and bereft of compassion and human decency. If ten percent of the 
wider Australian population were systematically removed from their families 
over several generations it would invoke public outcry and give grounds for 
international condemnation.

"The Australian Government's current xenophobic stance makes it appear 
futile to again call for the implementation of the recommendations of the 
Bringing Them Home Report.

"We call instead upon leaders of this nation to disassociate themselves 
from these divisive comments and ask that the Minister, to whom the 
comments have been attributed, be removed from the Aboriginal Affairs 
portfolio as his ineptness and unsuitability are self-evident to everyone 
other than himself."

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