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Thursday, 20 March 2014
Page: 2647


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (13:59): on indulgence—I wish to note that this is the first anniversary of the parliament's apology for forced adoptions. On 21 March last year the former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and I led the national apology for forced adoptions. It was a heartfelt occasion that meant much to many across our country. We rightly apologised to the women, the children and the families who were victims of forced adoption. For too long, too many had believed that they knew what was for the best for young unwed mothers and their babies. But the people who claimed it should have known better. If they had known better, terrible and avoidable pain that was inflicted on hundreds of thousands of people would have been avoided.

There is no stronger bond than between a mother and her child, and it should never have been presumed that these young women were incapable of raising their children. It was a tragedy for them and for our nation, and last year we did do our best to atone. We said that we were sorry for being hard-hearted and judgemental. We said we were sorry for turning what should have been the wonderful experience of new life into something filled with shame.

A year ago, as a nation, we accepted responsibility for the pain, the suffering and the grief. I want to assure all those who were hurt—the mothers, the children and the fathers—that you are not forgotten. Our hope last year was that the apology would be part of a healing process. My hope today is that the apology has played, and is playing, its part in transforming reproach into reassurance and anger into peace.