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Australia to apologize those abused in state care

Australia to apologize those abused in state care

Australia's government will follow its historic apology to Aborigines last year for past injustices with a similar apology next month to children who suffered in state care during the last century, a cabinet minister said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will lead the apology Nov. 16 for neglect and abuses of children without families, Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin announced.
"It's an opportunity for us all to recognize that what was done was wrong, that it caused an enormous amount of pain," Macklin told reporters.
A 2004 Senate report said more than 500,000 Australian children were placed in foster homes, orphanages and other institutions during the 20th century. They are often referred to as the "forgotten Australians." Many were emotionally, physically and sexually abused in state care.
A 2001 report said between 6,000 and 30,000 children from Britain and Malta, often taken from unmarried mothers or impoverished families, were sent alone to Australia as migrants in the last century.
Both Senate reports recommended that the government of then Prime Minister John Howard apologize for the abuses and assaults that many suffered in institutions and foster care.
But Howard rejected those recommendations, as well as a government-commissioned report in 1997 that called for a national apology for Australia's treatment of Aborigines since European settlement in 1788. He argued that contemporary Australians should not take responsibility for mistakes made by past generations.
One of Rudd's first acts in Parliament after his election victory in November 2007 was to formally apologize to Aborigines.
The apology to those children who were abused in state care has been promised since August. It is supported by both the government and the main opposition party and will be delivered as part of a remembrance ceremony at Parliament House.
Harold Haig, a spokesman for Child Migrants, a group that represents European children brought to Australian orphanages, called for the apology to be followed by government compensation.
"There would need to be reparation and restitution ... so that child migrants finally get justice," he said.


Updated : 2021-02-25 21:20 GMT+08:00