Calls for stolen generation inquiry to visit Northern Rivers
INDIGENOUS men and women in the Northern Rivers who have been affected by the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families will get the chance to tell the New South Wales Government their stories.
The state's upper house has voted to unanimously support an inquiry later this year into reparation for the Stolen Generations.
Byron-based Greens MP Jan Barham, who called in parliament for the inquiry, assured Northern Rivers residents they would not be overlooked.
"It will definitely travel - we will go visit the communities so members of parliament get a true understanding of the impact and experiences that people have lived through," she said.
"We also want to visit some of the places where people were taken to, so we can appreciate the sad experiences that changed their lives.
"It will not be a rushed inquiry and it will be done with the utmost respect."
The time limit for submissions has been extended to three months, instead of the usual one, and expires on September 27.
Ms Barham said possible recommendations for reparations might include greater employment opportunities and boosting access to language and cultural education that was taken away by the forcible removal of children.
"But we will only know how to best do that - what's needed - by hearing from people," she said.
Clarence Valley Aboriginal Healing Centre co-ordinator Janelle Brown urged parliament not to overlook Grafton when plotting its course for the inquiry.
"We have members of our community who are affected - either themselves or through their parents or grandparents," she said.
"But the Clarence Valley so often misses out.
"Too often events like this are held at the other two centres (Coffs Harbour and Lismore) and because our people can't get there they don't get to have a say on these important issues."
A counsellor for the Stolen Generations, Jeff Richardson from Lismore-based Aboriginal empowerment project Rekindling the Spirit, said taking the inquiry outside major cities was vital to getting the full picture of the practice's impact.
"It's all about finding your mob and establishing your own identity - where you come from and who you are," he said.
"And recovering from the abuses that people suffered while living in those institutions.
"Coming and holding the interviews close to where our people live would give them a much better understanding about what this is all about."