The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and The Balit Durn Durn Centre welcome the Premier of Victoria Jacinta Allan’s formal apology to Victorians who endured historical abuse and neglect as children in institutional care.
Premier Allan delivered the historic apology in a joint sitting of parliament yesterday. Between 1928 and 1990, an estimated 90,000 Victorian children were placed into institutions such as orphanages, children’s homes and missions run by the state or religious groups.
The brutal and rapid colonisation saw many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly removed from families and Communities by governments, and subsequently placed into such institutions where some were exposed to grossly unsafe and dangerous situations.
Aboriginal children were among the thousands of young people subjected to abhorrent levels of abuse and neglect while placed in institutional care.
The trauma inflicted due to this displacement, abuse, and neglect has had severe and lasting impacts, creating additional to cycles of disadvantage and intergenerational trauma.
This is yet another example of colonial systems utterly failing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families, leaving Communities with a legacy of grief and trauma that exacerbates mental health and wellbeing challenges.
VACCHO emphasises and is dismayed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be removed from their families at alarming rates.
Last year’s ‘The Family Matters’ annual report released by the national peak body for First Nations children and families (SNAICC), found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 10.5 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children.
The Victorian Government’s new Victorian Care Leavers Redress Scheme is under development and will be co-designed with Victorians who grew up in institutional care.
Until the scheme begins, the Victorian Government is providing Advanced Redress payments of $10,000 to people who were physically, psychologically, or emotionally abused or neglected as children in institutional care in Victoria before 1990, and who are now critically or terminally ill.
VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO acknowledged the Premier’s apology as an important “step in the right direction.”
“I’d like to pass on my heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the children, families, and Communities who experienced the devastating and disturbing impacts of these failings.”
“The separation from family, Communities, culture, and kin continues to have immeasurable impacts on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Communities, and only exacerbates cycles of disadvantage.”
“I wish to recognise the leadership and heartfelt sentiments expressed today by Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan, Opposition Leader John Pesutto, and Greens Leader Samantha Ratnam.”
Executive Director of VACCHO’s Balit Durn Durn Centre Sheree Lowe welcomes the Premier’s apology but emphasises that yesterday was undoubtedly a day that triggered many painful memories and emotions for those who endured harm within institutions and their families.
“The pain, suffering, neglect, and humiliation these young people experienced has contributed to intergenerational trauma – and many people growing up without hope-limited prospects of a healthy, fulfilling life.”
“The atrocities that took place within these institutions serve as a painful reminder of the devastating impacts of the Stolen Generations, the impacts of displacement, the impacts of governments breaking up families and Communities.”
“Governments must ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated by prioritising bolstering Aboriginal organisations to safeguard the resilience of Aboriginal families and support them to be safe and strong.”