Tuesday saw a special event marked across the Parliament: the 25th anniversary of the NSW Apology to Survivors of the Stolen Generations. The House also started debate on the Disability Inclusion Amendment Bill 2022 – check out the details below.
25th Anniversary of the NSW apology to the Stolen Generations
In 1997, the NSW Government under then-Premier Bob Carr, supported by then-Leader of the Opposition Peter Collins, made an unreserved apology to the Aboriginal people of NSW for the policies and practices that led to the removal of generations of Aboriginal children from their families.
The 25th anniversary of the apology will fall on 18 June 2022, and the Parliament of NSW marked this significant milestone on Tuesday with a special event for survivors, with statements made by the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and other members reaffirming their commitment to the apology and ongoing reconciliation. Stolen Generations survivors and their families gathered at NSW Parliament House to watch and take part in the commemoration, which commenced with a Welcome to Parliament, Acknowledgement of Country, smoking ceremony and cultural performance.
In the Legislative Assembly, members heard directly from survivors including Uncle James Michael Welsh, also known as “Widdy” or Number 36, Aunty Loraine Peeters and Uncle Richard Dawes.
In the Legislative Council, Minister Franklin (Nationals) moved a motion to mark the anniversary of the apology to the Aboriginal people of NSW for the systematic separation of generations of Aboriginal children from their parents, families, communities and country, and to reaffirm support for the resolution of the House of 18 June 1997. The motion, for which there was strong bipartisan support, also:
- Reaffirmed the House’s unreserved apologies to all Aboriginal people across the state and Australia for the systemic injustices of separating Aboriginal children from their parents, families, communities and country, whilst acknowledging the government’s role in inflicting continued pain and suffering to Aboriginal people across NSW and Australia
- Sincerely apologised for the intergenerational trauma and deep-seated agony these policies and laws have inflicted onto the many generations of Aboriginal people in our state
- Reiterated the House’s continued commitment to effective reconciliation in NSW, and to supporting the implementation of the NSW Government Response to “Unfinished Business” by working in direct partnership with Stolen Generations survivors, Elders, Aunts and Uncles, and with the Stolen Generations Advisory Committee Organisations including Kinchela Boys’ Home Aboriginal Corporation, Coota Girls Aboriginal Corporation, Children of the Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home Incorporated, and the NSW/ACT Stolen Generations Council.
Ms Sharpe (Labor) spoke in support of the motion before debate was adjourned to a later hour of the sitting. On debate resuming later that evening, the following members spoke in support of the motion: Revd Mr Nile (Independent); Minister Mitchell (Nationals); Mr Moselmane (Labor); Mr Pearson (Animal Justice Party); Minister Maclaren-Jones (Liberal); Mr Secord (Labor); Ms Higginson (The Greens); Minister Taylor (Nationals); Ms Faehrmann (The Greens); Mr Amato (Liberals); Mr Field (Independent); and Minister Franklin in reply. See the Hansard entries here and here for the full debate.
In recognition of this significant occasion, an Aboriginal message stick was placed on the table for the duration of Tuesday’s sitting (pictured below). This message stick was presented to the Parliament in 2017 during a ceremony to mark the introduction of the Aboriginal Languages Bill, and serves as a reminder of the two-way, ongoing dialogue between the Aboriginal community and the Parliament.
Disability Inclusion Amendment Bill 2022
Following its introduction in the last sitting week by Mr Martin on behalf of Minister Maclaren-Jones, debate resumed on the second reading of the Disability Inclusion Amendment Bill 2022, which seeks to amend the Disability Inclusion Act 2014 to give effect to recommendations arising from this statutory review of the Act, and for related purposes. Ms Sharpe (Labor) commenced her contribution on the second reading debate, before debate was interrupted for question time.