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5th Anniversary of the Apology: a turning point in our nation’s story

Sunday 16 November marked the fifth anniversary of the Federal Government’s Apology to the Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants with events held around the country to celebrate the occasion.

In Adelaide, a group of 50 people came together at the Daisy Memorial for Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants at Peace Park on Friday 14 November. A circle of friends around the Daisy Memorial let go of 50 purple balloons to mark the occasion and people were encouraged to say something before balloons were let off. Many people remembered loved ones and explained that they want to make sure what happened to them does not happen to any other children.

Priscilla Taylor, Care Leavers Australia Network committee member and South Australian ambassador for the National Alliance for Forgotten Australians, and Mergho Ray, Director of Health and Community Services at Relationships Australia (SA), both spoke at the special event. Attendees also marked the event in special ways:

  • Tina led everyone in a song and performed for the group. A copy of her CD was distributed to the group along with this year’s wattle badge, the symbol for the apology.
  • Teresa shared some poetry which summed up perfectly what the survivors had been through.
  • Steve shared that he has found an unmarked grave sits at the back of the West Terrace cemetery for children who died in care. He is lobbying the government to have a memorial to recognise this site.
  • Jack spoke of the long fight to get benches in the park near the Daisy Memorial. It has taken five years, and now they are finally there. He also presented Relationships Australia (SA) with a plaque for their contribution in helping to get the benches in the park.

­­­See our facebook page for some selected photographs from the event.

The apology was a moving day in the Great Hall of Parliament in 2009 where the Prime Minister apologised, on behalf of the nation, to more than 500,000 Australians. The apology dealt with an ugly chapter in our nation’s history as many suffered abuse and neglect while in out-of-home care during the last century. The apology was a long overdue endorsement of Recommendation 1 of the Forgotten Australians report (2004).­­­

Priscilla Taylor said, “the apology signified for us that we’d been listened to, we’d been believed, and we’d been acknowledged. This is our fifth anniversary, we’ve come a long way, but there is still more to be done.” 

Elm Place at Relationships Australia (SA) provides services to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants. Mergho Ray said, “we were glad to be involved as a demonstration of our support for people who have experienced a great deal of wrong and suffering. The anniversary of the apology is a strong reminder that protecting the rights of children is still relevant today.”

There are a number of other activities taking place in Australia and internationally, including:

  • Care Leavers Network of Australia Chief Executive Leonie Sheedy is in Geneva to meet with the UN Committee Against Torture, which is currently reviewing Australia’s record along with 155 other countries.
  • The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse continues. Support is available for people to come forward to share their story with the Commission.

For further information, please get in touch with the following services:

Additional information and resources can be found on the Respond SA website.