Most ‘Bringing them home’ recommendations ignored – indigenous leader

Only three of the 54 recommendations of the “Bringing Them Home” report have been implemented, an indigenous leader said yesterday.

The Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, was tabled in the Federal Parliament 13 years ago on Wednesday.

Speaking at the National Sorry Day Community BBQ at Kuril-dhagun at the State Library of Queensland, Reconciliation Queensland indigenous co-chair Aunty Heather Castledine said yesterday reconciliation was everybody’s business.

“The mutual respect for everybody, justice and fairness, acknowledging the diversity and mutual history, understanding truth, and learning, the opportunities to share with a common brand of healing, and to acknowledge that in lots of ways,” she said.

“We just don’t realise how little we know about each other until we sit down and start talking.

“We do have a shared path, we just need to acknowledge it.”

The only recommendations to have been adopted are to do with setting up National Sorry Day, commemorating families and communities affected by forced removal of children, and the national apology by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in February 2008, Ms Castledine said.

Other recommendations include reparations to those who suffered because of forced removal of children, training about the history and effects of forced removal for all professionals working with indigenous people, and giving people the right to view any document about their forced removal at no cost.

Ms Castledine said reconciliation had come a long way since 2000.

“When I look at people in the departments, and services we actually have now compared to what we had in 2000, I think we have come a long way and we need to acknowledge that.

“But unfortunately we still have a long way to go.”

The library also hosted a screening of a documentary based on the Bringing Them Home report, and a discussion afterwards.

The documentary showed Indigenous people telling their stories of being removed from their families by force and fraud.

Sir Ronald Wilson, then head of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission said in the documentary some indigenous children were abused, physically and sexually.

But some had good lives with kind foster-parents who brought them up well and gave them many advantages.

Story teller Julie Lavelle, said she had been treated well by her wealthy white foster-parents, but even the good things she had were no trade-off for not knowing her mother, and for not knowing she had brothers.

The removal of indigenous children from their families was genocide, as defined by a 1948 United Nations convention, Sir Ronald said.

One participant asked if it was more an attempt at genocide rather than genocide itself.

The moderator, Ms Jo-Anne Driessens, said many indigenous people had never found their way back, and never would.

Other Reconciliation Week events include a talk by former federal MP Manfred Cross on the 1967 referendum which allowed the Government to make laws about indigenous people.

As well as a “Living Books” session as people tell their history, and a “Deepen the Conversation forum.

For more information see the State Library website,

(Image from the SLQ’s current exhibition of photographs from the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival at Cape York.)

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