Article published on the 2009-11-16 Latest update 2009-11-16 09:46 TU
Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd makes a national apology to the forgotten Australians and former child migrants at a ceremony in the great hall at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday
Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has apologised on behalf of the government for the pain of “forgotten Australians”, who were removed from their families and placed in orphanages and foster homes until the 1970s. About 1,000 people heard the apology in Canberra’s Parliament House on Monday.
Between the 1930s and the 1970s, 500,000 children were institutionalised in Australia.
Rudd said the country looked back "in shame” at the fact that so many of these children, who had been removed from their families in countries such as Britain and placed in foster care or orphanages, were assaulted, abused and neglected during their time in care.
The Prime Minister’s speech was welcomed with tears and cheers from some of these “forgotten Australians” who attended the apology. Many of them have say they have been traumatised by their childhood experience and have found it difficult to bond with others as a result.
Australia's human rights watchdog said the apology marked a significant part of the healing process for those placed in institutions in the last century.
Australian Human Rights Comission head Cathy Branson welcomed the government’s move, “Saying sorry on behalf of the nation will assist many individuals and their families to look to the future and to put behind them this dark chapter in Australia’s history.”