Apology for child policy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 July, 1996, 12:00am

The Catholic Church has formally apologised for its historical role in assisting state and federal governments in forcibly separating Aboriginal children from their parents.

The apology follows a similar one made recently by the Anglican Church.

The apologies of both - believed to be the first of their kind - are important stages in healing the wounds caused by the 'assimilationist policy', under which Australian governments took Aboriginal children from their families and placed them in white homes and white-run institutions, many of them religious. The policy was practised until 1969.

In a submission to a national inquiry into the plight of the 'Lost Generations' of children, Australia's Catholic bishops said: 'The abhorrent practice of removing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families will forever remain a blight on our nation.' The plight of the 'Lost Generations' remains a simmering issue in Australian politics. Tens of thousands of Aboriginal children were removed from their homes between the end of the last century and the end of the 1960s.

Many survivors of the policy are seeking compensation for the trauma caused by their experiences and are hoping to be reunited with their parents. However, inadequate records are making family reunions difficult.