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STANDING COMMITTEE ON COMMUNITY AFFAIRS
06/04/2009
Implementation of the recommendations of the Lost Innocents and Forgotten Australians reports

CHAIR —Welcome, everyone. Does anyone want to add anything about the capacity in which you appear here today?

Ms Hegarty —I am originally from Cherbourg and I am speaking on behalf of my community, people around Brisbane.

CHAIR —We have got the HAN PowerPoint presentation. Thank you very much. Does anyone want to make an opening statement?

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —The Historical Abuse Network has been formed following the Forde inquiry in 1999. The Historical Abuse Network congratulates the Australian government in directing the Senate Community Affairs Committee to relook at the recommendations of the Senate reports and lost innocence and the forgotten Australians.

Expectation and hope: HAN members, as did many forgotten Australians across the nation, had great expectations when the Senate report was presented to parliament. The response of the government of the day and that of the ALP opposition were inadequate and devastating to the forgotten Australians. It was with great relief that we see that with the new government the recommendations are once again to be examined.

Statement of acknowledgment and apology: the Historical Abuse Network is very disappointed that there has been no progress on these recommendations. HAN advocates that the Australian parliaments acknowledge that abuses did occur when people were in church and state care of the states and apologises for the harm and distress suffered on behalf of the nation.

CHAIR —Thank you. It would be helpful if you concentrate on the points you particularly want to talk to rather than reading the whole document.

Mrs Lovely —Regarding the church redress process, HAN believes that the churches, as significant institutions in society, should have to report about the complaints, internal processes and outcomes annually to an appropriate statutory external body. There has been no progress on these matters. HAN would advocate that the Senate committee provide information to the Human Rights Commission as evidence of the significant human rights violation which have occurred to children while in church and state care, and the limitations of internal government and church process in relation to redress. HAN members would acknowledge that redress should be managed by an external party to government, the courts.

There are different perspectives by HAN members about whether or not a royal commission would be able to bring about the justice and healing that people are seeking. Those in favour believe a royal commission will be able to access records and have greater powers of investigation within churches and state governments, thus making recommendations and findings that would force governments and churches to action.

CHAIR —Thank you, Mrs Lovely.

Ms Tronc —Those against having a royal commission are concerned about the expense of the commission and that there would once again be another report that is not responded to by governments. There is concern also about how many people are getting older and want action by governments sooner rather than later.

Advocacy: HAN would also recommend advocacy services for parents within the child protection system to be funded by the Commonwealth as independent to the states, who operate the child protection system. Parents who were in care themselves especially feel that they are discriminated against and unable to address the power issues due to their own childhood experiences.

CHAIR —Thank you. Ms Hegarty.

Ms Hegarty —Mine is addressing legal barriers. There has been no progress on these matters and HAN would advocate that the Australian government consider taking leadership in advocating and supporting state jurisdictions to have a national approach to ensuring that the legal status of religious institutions does not prevent such institutions from being accountable and for all states to review their statute of limitation laws, acknowledging more realistic timeframes for victims of abuse to report crimes.

Health care, housing and aged care programs: inclusion and access for forgotten Australians into health care, housing and aged care services is a high priority for HAN members. HAN members advocate a system within government services that recognises forgotten Australians’ experience of trauma and abuse and its impact on our health care, housing and aged care needs. Our people are entitled to institutional care as older Australians. HAN requests the Senate committee to explore assistance for forgotten Australians that provides priority access.

CHAIR —Thank you very much.

Mrs Stevenson —I would like to speak on the legal issue and also the health issue. But I will not read it out again.

Ms Tronc —There are different perspectives by HAN members about whether or not a royal commission would be able to bring about the justice and healing that people are seeking. Those in favour believe a royal commission would be able to access records and have greater powers of investigation within churches and the state government, thus making recommendations and findings that would force governments and churches to action.

CHAIR —Thank you very much. We will now ask you some questions. Senator Humphries.

Senator HUMPHRIES —I do not think there is any organisation quite like HAN in other parts of Australia, at least I have not noticed any information about them if there is. Can you tell me a little bit about how HAN works and how many people it reaches who are care leavers?

Ms Walsh —The Historical Abuse Network operates as a network. Prior to Redress, it was a network that met regularly; and, post Redress, we are looking at the best way to move forward with the network structure. It used to have 300 members, and now it has 2,200. Not everyone is happy with the network structure, and it is time to review which way to go with it. Certainly, as a network, the Historic Abuse Network is a strong advocate for Redress in Queensland and its structure reflects that. It provides many opportunities for people to participate—over 200 people have participated in small groups or activities. People here might want to talk about their participation in HAN rather than its structure.

CHAIR —The HAN network grew out of the Forde inquiry.

Ms Walsh —Yes. It was established after the Forde inquiry. Prior to the Forde inquiry, there were a number of small groups that represented different orphanages. The Esther Trust had an advisory committee of victims who wanted to progress to becoming advocates following the Forde inquiry. With the growth of the network and its ability to reach the whole state, other challenges are now facing it, including which is the best way to go forward. Its main activity for eight years has been to advocate the recommendations of the Forde inquiry and, of those, the compensation recommendation has not been addressed.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Do members of HAN come together regularly to discuss issues, or do they tend to communicate online or in other ways?

Ms Walsh —It is a combination. People have set up their own groups as well. HAN has never pretended to be the only group. There are many self-help or self-advocacy groups. Prior to Redress, HAN did come together regularly. Since Redress, that has been much harder because Lotus Place has been the agency facilitating the application process; it has assisted over 2,000 people.

Senator HUMPHRIES —How has that made it harder for HAN?

Ms Walsh —It made it harder resource-wise for us to continue to bring people together in large numbers. Prior to Redress, 100 to 200 people regularly came together. People in the region participated through letters, phone calls and emails. There have been some problems with online communication, and we need to continue to try and sort out how that can work so that nobody is left out. There is some monitoring of the communication online. People have participated. Do any of you want to comment?

Senator HUMPHRIES —Could a couple of you describe how you got involved in HAN and how it has been a useful exercise? How has it helped you deal with issues arising from your own time in care?

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —With the historical abuse, we have what we call the ‘empower arts’. We are a small group that is run under the Historical Abuse Network, and we do help people to try to help themselves by being active. We do lots of things such as making Christmas cards and calendars for the new year. We try to get people involved in art or some kind of work so that they can improve themselves and become independent.

Mrs Lovely —I like to participate in HAN because we are all like-minded people. We have all been through the same situation and, therefore, we understand and respect one another. That in itself is very supportive. We are very supportive of each other—or we try to be, okay. For me, it is a wonderful support system. I am very grateful to all the people who have done all the hard work behind the scenes. I am not educated but I do appreciate the work that goes on to form groups. I do like to participate and be as helpful as I can. So I am very thankful for all the support.

CHAIR —Senator Humphries is keen to know how you all got involved in the network.

Mrs Lovely —We were going along to the Esther Centre because of the Forde inquiry; it sort of started from there. I was going along to the Esther Centre, and then I was asked to join as a member. I said: ‘Yes. I would like to participate and be helpful in any way I can.’ That is how I became involved in it. I used to go there quite regularly. I wanted to be helpful and supportive and to talk to other people. But, of late, I have not been very involved. There are quite a few people with problems who are still suffering, and I respect that. But we all handle our situations in our own way.

Ms Tronc —I enjoy the work that I do there as a volunteer and as a member in advocating for my community as a whole. I hope that what we are all working towards is going to see change and a better future ahead for our children today.

CHAIR —How did you get involved, Diane?

Ms Tronc —The Forde inquiry started that. We meet on Tuesday, which is open day. I just like to go in there and try to move a few of us through—to get creative, to heal and to move on a bit.

Ms Hegarty —I am a very community-minded person. I have always been involved with committees not only for our people but for anybody in particular. I am not prejudiced, okay. If I can help somebody on the street or anywhere, I will. I became involved in Lotus Place because a lot of my family and friends went there. St Vinnies used to be there and now Micah helps a lot of our people. We all go there, and I am still going there. It is one good organisation that should always be there for everybody. I see a lot of people go to these places because of Redress. When I go back home, I am the sort of person who feeds back what I hear from good sources. I like to tell the people what is happening here, there and everywhere regarding our situations. To me, Micah is one good place that has to stay, because without Micah where would all our people—especially our people, the Aboriginals—be? I see the work that they do. I can be creative and be voluntary person. I am a good listener. I believe this is my mission for the good Lord as a Christian. I do appreciate all the people who are involved with Micah, such as John and Karyn—everybody who is sitting behind us. We are all good friends. We try to make each other happy and to listen to each other. You are listening to all of us now, and whatever we say will go towards doing something for all of us—all Australians. I really appreciate the work of the committee and the opportunity to sit here and speak to all of you lot. Thank you.

Mrs Stevenson —I got involved when the new alcohol thing was started. Then I went to WARC and did a computer course. And then I went up to the Esther Centre, and that is where I have been ever since. I find the Esther Centre or Lotus Place, whatever you want to call it, a calming place most of the time. I just like to help, whether it is washing up or just being there for people to talk to me. Sometimes they need somebody like one of the residents to talk to them, too. They do not want to go to the staff all the time. They want to talk to the residents, because they know what they have been through. We just need each other. That is all I have to say. Thank you.

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —I would like to talk about the statue that we did with SOICA that started up back in 1996 or 1997. We got that going in remembrance of the children who died and for those who are alive today as well to acknowledge those who passed away. It was a lovely little androgenous figure. Everybody loves the statue when they go and have a look. One of the things that we want to do this year is to get it recognised nationally if possible. It is a beautiful statue that people really look up to for the children that have lost their lives in any and every institution. That project also involved the Brisbane City Council that was a great help. The gamblers commission also helped with it as well, so we are very thankful for all that.

CHAIR —We heard in Melbourne that they were trying to do something and were having great trouble getting approval for a site.

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —It was very hard because we went down first to the garden in the city—I was one of the first members as well, I went all the way with it, and it has been moved all around. Where it is now is very pretty and very nice.

CHAIR —It is lovely.

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —Another thing I wanted to talk about is that every year we do have a Christmas party for the residents to give them a little bit of something that they missed as a child. They never had Christmases and birthdays and this is just another way to say, ‘Hey guys, we’re thinking about you, we’re all for you.’ We would like everyone to be happy and appreciated.

CHAIR —And that is through the HAN?

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —Through the Historical Abuse Network, yes. We could not do it without Karyn and Allan. We do appreciate these people and all the others on board. Thank you.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Can I ask how many of you were in care in Queensland? Could I have a show of hands? You all were. Does that tend to be what makes up HAN? Is it mainly people who have been in care in Queensland?

Ms Walsh —It is for people who have been in care in Queensland. We do provide information and we would not really refuse anyone unless the numbers got huge, but it is not publicised that it is for anyone in care. It is one of the tensions. There are people who were not in care in Queensland and we as an organisation would recognise that tension. Certainly, on an individual basis there has not been any rejection or exclusion of people, but the services are limited. We have not had a huge request because the network is advertised as a service for people who are in care in Queensland. But there are people who get the newsletter who were not in care in Queensland just as information.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Do you get any funding from government to keep your services going?

Ms Walsh —Yes.

Senator HUMPHRIES —How much do you get?

Ms Walsh —For the whole service system over $500,000.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Is that for HAN by itself?

Ms Walsh —No, HAN is about $60,000. But it is complemented by the other support work that is there.

Senator HUMPHRIES —The question of an apology has been much discussed. It was our No. 1 recommendation in the Forgotten Australians report. Some states—and I think Queensland is one of them—have arranged an apology and they have a redress system for people to get some money to back that apology up. It has not happened nationally. I assume you would agree that a national apology is a good thing to happen. Do you think that if an apology happens without there being a nationally organised redress scheme—and I am thinking particularly of the benefits for people in places which do not have a redress scheme such as New South Wales and Victoria—it is hollow in those circumstances and should be deferred until there is a redress scheme as well or is it okay to separate these two things?

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —I think it should be nationwide. It should be all over Australia because it is all in Australia. I believe it should be in every state not just here.

Senator HUMPHRIES —So you think every state should make an apology and have a redress scheme.

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —Definitely, yes.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Do you think the national government should do this?

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —The Australian government.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Okay.

CHAIR —Does anyone else want to make a comment on that?

Mrs Lovely —I would like to say from my point of view that it goes hand in hand. Actions speak louder than words. If you can get something concrete out there to them as well as words, that is great.

Senator HUMPHRIES —So you think that having an apology without a redress scheme might seem a bit hollow or insincere?

Mrs Lovely —In my opinion, yes; but I am not speaking for everyone.

Ms Hegarty —I believe a public apology, nationwide, would suit us all down to a tee. What they have done does not affect my generation or my being, but it is always good to remember. We remember Australia Day and every other day—and what happens in America? Why can’t we have a day for us mob in particular, because we are the original Australians and nobody seems to acknowledge it. We have to work, and we have to sign forms for this and that. The land was ours in the first place, and everybody knows that. Now we have battles over land rights and whatnot, but people do not listen to us. A public day would be very good for all of us people in Australia. There are a lot of good supporters out there. We do not have to march any more when we can do it the right way. There were priests and two archbishops there. It was done in a church. I got the night wrong and I was not there. But I thought it was very brave of them to do that. I do respect the Catholic Church—I respect any church. We all serve one God. Once that happens, maybe we will see a bit of peace and harmony in our communities everywhere and people will accept us. We do acknowledge people—I do, anyway. I would like to see that all around. And then the apology would be really awesome. Money is nothing. That apology means a lot to all of us people and our children and grandchildren. I have become a great granny and I am very proud of the children. When the children grow up they will know it has been done for all of us in Australia.

CHAIR —Ms Tronc and Mrs Stevenson, you were both about to say something on the apology aspect.

Ms Tronc —I would like to see it become national and for it to be opened up internationally so people can see that we are going to have a change. I think it is very much needed for all of us to come together in unity.

Mrs Stevenson —I would like to see a written apology as well. If it is tabled in parliament it will be right and I think it would go ahead.

CHAIR —The Queensland state government has made an apology. Was that something that had any impact on each of you? That apology is a few years old now. The state government made an apology, as did some of the churches as well. From your perspective, did that have any impact?

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —A lot of people were not happy with that one as it really did not explain anything about the apology. It was just very fine and simple words, but deep down it had nothing really heartfelt in it.

Ms Walsh —The criticism of the Queensland apology was that it did not involve dialogue. Any form of apology requires some dialogue with people who were forgotten Australian or who were in care. There is a very mixed reaction to apologies.

CHAIR —Always.

Ms Walsh —Some people feel very clearly that having an apology is a starting point and necessary. Lots of people feel that it does not matter if it is with redress, and other people feel it is critical that it is combined with redress. But you would not get one point of view on this; you would get hundreds. For individuals, though, people noted that they are not necessarily aware of which churches have given apologies—they have not been circulated to people individually. Sometimes they are given with internal complaints processes, but if people have not gone through that process they have not received it. So there is sort of an ad hoc approach to it. Again, there was no engagement with people who have experienced the abuse and harm in developing those apologies, and most literature on whether apologies are meaningful or not would indicate that there does need to be dialogue. Certainly the Queensland government would say that it used the experiences and stories of the Forde inquiry to inform that apology, but people still felt there could have been greater emphasis on engaging forgotten Australians in what the apology means—which is not an easy thing either.

Mrs Lovely —In simple terms, if I do something to, say, Diane that was very wrong and very hurtful and she was suffering because of it, if I were a genuine person, I would say ‘I am very sorry Diane, what can I do to make up for it?’ It is not just the word ‘sorry’, I would like to do something or go without something if I could make it up to her in some way. This is what I am saying: actions are louder than words.

Senator FURNER —I think this is an important part of a number of the recommendations. If I could ask Ms Hegarty specifically about the second day of this government’s term in parliament when they gave an apology to the stolen generation. Was it because of the manner in which that apology was delivered involving elders and other people in the process that it was seen as a genuine apology? Is that really what your group is looking for in this particular case?

Ms Hegarty —The way I see and hear it from my own people is that a piece of paper is nothing. As the lady said, ‘Actions speak louder than words.’ That is only pittance money, lolly money, to us mob, especially to our mob. Money cannot buy back the memories that they took away or pay for what they did to our people, grannies, mothers and fathers. They split us up. They cannot bring back what we lost with our families.

At the moment I have a granddaughter who was taken into care and I am trying very hard. She has been given back after five years, but you must understand to have a granddaughter not growing up with us really hurts. It is a very hard thing to happen to my daughter. There are emotions you cannot express and money cannot buy anything to take that hurt away. I am trying to be nice about asking them to give her back to my daughter. If my daughter is not a fit mother then my granddaughter should come back to me. I am 61 now with six children and 23 grandchildren. It is my youngest daughter whose child, Tareta, I am talking about. What can money do while my daughter, my granddaughter, I and my other children are missing that one link in our family? It hurts all of us to have someone taken away. It is a feeling you cannot talk about because you feel very angry at the world and the government. People do not understand. It is something you can never give back. We have lost five years with my granddaughter and a piece of paper does not solve anything. Money cannot buy anything that helps. What we have to accept is that we take it. I tell people, ‘Be thankful for small mercies, because one day we are going to have treasures laid up in heaven.’ It is a thing money cannot buy.

Other nationalities come into Australia and they will be given alms, money and a job. I have been back home for seven years and I am a qualified AIDS carer, I am a community member, I have been on committees and everything and yet they would not give me a job, so I had to come to Brisbane. This is why I am involved with Micah and these people. I should say folks not people because we are all friends. As I said, money cannot buy what they have taken from us. But I am thankful for the opportunity to express all that. Those are my feelings and a lot of my family’s feelings. They keep taking our babies away and it is not the stolen generation anymore, it is called foster care. They just come and take.

CHAIR —The issue of foster care is also one that this committee is looking at, so we are looking at any situation where a child is in care. All those issues are part of what we do.

Ms Hegarty —Thank you for my time.

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —As I was reading I came to the apology where it does say that the state government and the churches on behalf of the nation apologise for the harm and distress suffered. Why cannot we just have a national apology perhaps with a remembrance? We could put it together in one as we do with a national remembrance day, the apology comes with it on the day.

CHAIR —Certainly, the recommendation from the original inquiry was for both. There would be a national process and there would also be processes at the state level because so many things happened at that level. This inquiry is looking specifically at those recommendations and what has happened. As Senator Humphries pointed out there are different responses across the country. A number of state governments have made apologies as Queensland has done, but we are looking at the national aspect as well, so we would like your answers.

Ms Walsh —In relation to the scope of the apology, the Queensland apology was in relation to the Forde inquiry. Foster care was not part of the Forde inquiry. It is the same with the redress schemes. They are not all equal. Some cover different elements and foster care was not part of the Queensland Redress Scheme.

CHAIR —I understand it is in Western Australia. The Western Australian scheme covers all aspects of care. The Tasmanian scheme was only for institutional care as well. The secretariat is holding up a lovely graph to show how the reparation schemes compare.

Ms Walsh —The stolen generation is in the Tasmanian and Western Australian schemes as well.

CHAIR —Is it in the Queensland scheme?

Ms Walsh —No. It is only if people were under the act and were in the institutions named by the Forde inquiry.

CHAIR —They are covered, but it is only if they were in institutional care.

Ms Walsh —Yes.

Senator FURNER —I have some questions in respect of your submission. Firstly, thank you so much for coming along today. We really appreciate it. There is quite a significant growth in your members from 300 to 2,000. How many years did that occur over and from what period?

Ms Walsh —Eighteen months has been the most significant period. Obviously, the statewide advertising of the Redress Scheme has brought a lot of people into contact with the service system as a whole. Not everybody joins HAN but 2,200 people have.

Senator FURNER —Is the organisation established in the sense of having administration through a board? Is that how you are administered?

Ms Walsh —No, it is a network within a service system.

Senator FURNER —Going to your submission I can understand the concerns and intent behind returning to aged care programs and institutions. Can you explain some of the concerns that your members are worried about in moving to the aged care environment?

Ms Walsh —Mainly it is the age group of the network. Do any of you want to talk about aged care? Certainly, many people are not in appropriate accommodation as they are getting older and the fear of institutional care is a really major issue.

Mrs Stevenson —I see my mum in aged care and she has a room of her own and stuff like that. It is a really nice place. But for most of us that have been in institutional care we do not want to be chucked back into that sort of environment again. We do not want to be counted as a number, we just want to be people. We want to be treated properly even when we get older.

Senator FURNER —And how do you suggest that should happen?

Mrs Stevenson —I just think there should be caring people and looking after us and aged care. Some of those people cannot look after themselves and they need to have caring people instead of people that go in and leave. We need people that want to be there to care for the elderly because they cannot care for themselves. I have heard of instances of people being hit and they come down on that, but we want to know that we are going to be cared for as older people.

Ms Walsh —We should have research out of the Innovation Fund pool to look at some new models, which was the recommendation of the Senate inquiry. It was really just affirming the need and the urgency to progress that recommendation, so to look at the research and maybe some pilot programs involving forgotten Australians in the design and model of aged care would be appropriate. It was really affirming what was recommended in the report.

Ms Hegarty —I am just saying exactly what Colleen is saying about the care. They have not got carers who do care, especially at home there. I have brothers and good friends—

CHAIR —You said at home. Where is home?

Ms Hegarty —Cherbourg.

CHAIR —One of the questions I want to follow up later is about how Queensland is such a big state.

Ms Hegarty —I used to be a cook there on the weekend and I have seen things that should not be happening to our people. It is a very sad situation when they give the same people jobs all the time. I have been trying very hard since I got my certificate in 2004 or something and I went back home especially to be in aged care. My sister said she was the boss, she said, ‘Come back and I will give you a job.’ A lot of our family passed along because of accidents that have never been told to the world. My sister is still there. She was overdosed by a cook turned carer and then she went back to being a cook. Then she left and nothing was done about their actions. And even in the hospital when I see my sisters of family go there I tell the nurses, ‘You look after my blood. I will want to know why if anything happens.’ I have seen too many deaths. It is not spoken of outside the community. As a senior myself I cannot even get services done because of being a senior. They sent me letters to say that I have got to be disabled to access, and then I read all the government notices saying that we are entitled to all of these things that come out of respite. People that are put on these jobs are hand-picked by the council, they are all family of theirs. You want to see all the multicultural people living there now and working there, and people like me cannot even get a job there. That is why I always come to Brisbane because I feel happier and do what I like, say what I like and talk to whom I like and try to speak out for our people. As for aged care housing, it is not right that any of us should go through all this. In health care things happen at home there but nobody knows except us people who live there. I would like you to all know about this because apart from me nobody else will say the things I say and do what I do.

CHAIR —We have got the issues there and we will take note of those.

Ms Tronc —When I visit some nursing homes and prisons and do my voluntary work I see a lot of neglect and very understaffed. Still that power thing is there, and a lot of old people are very dehydrated. I cannot understand why we cannot get some volunteers up and working and be a bit more respected and appreciated in our community. The need is for more traineeships and programs under some banner somewhere and start getting us some training and being involved. I feel we are the ones with the heart to do a lot of that work. We see a lot of things that need to be hit on the head pretty quick and get that information back to the services that need that information to see that it is cleaned up and running right and they are cared for. They are put in that place for a reason, to be cared for.

I want to go back to the apology. It does need upgrading, because Premier Beattie’s signature is on that and he is no longer in Australia. I would like to see that rectified and his name taken off, if that is possible.

CHAIR —I think that is a historical thing. The apology of the day is on behalf of the government.

Ms Tronc —He is not there today. If that needs to be written, can we have that changed, please. Also my history of my family goes back to Sir Samuel Griffith and I am quite disheartened to see what has happened with my family and to be put in an orphanage coming from such a high-powered man. To see these workers around me who are working for Griffith University and in the services, it is a bit of a go.

Senator HUMPHRIES —One quick question. There are lots of pros and cons on a royal commission. In the remarks you made you mention some of those arguments for and against. Without canvassing all of those, do you think we need another forum where people who have been in care can tell their stories publicly? Is that needed?

Ms Tronc —Yes.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Okay. You all agree.

Mrs Lovely —A lot of us realise that we lost a childhood. Those of us who were in care lost a childhood and that is something that can never be replaced by all the money in the world. But the support that we get, whether it be monetary, emotional or whatever, because a lot of us do have emotional problems because of what we all went through as a child. So it is good to know that we are getting all the support that we are getting today. I am sure we are all very grateful for that. So whatever we can get we will accept gracefully.

Ms Hegarty —On aged care, I would like to say that it is a good idea if we can have it at home. As we are getting older we can stay in our home and perhaps they can come to us. It is another option..

CHAIR —That is the sort of policy, how it works. I have a question about the Redress Scheme. I know this is a very personal response and everybody handles these things differently, but we have had comment about the effectiveness and the appropriateness of the Queensland Redress Scheme, also the amount of effort to fill in forms and to stake your claim. Does anyone want to make any comment about that?

Mrs Lovely —I found it difficult to fill out the forms. Like I said before, I am not very educated, so I get very disorientated with forms. I try to understand it as best I can, but I have difficulty doing it. Another thing that is difficult is trying to prove how we were treated, how we were abused. It went across the board. All of the people who were in the homes have similar stories, some a lot worse than others, but I found that very difficult—that is, to try to prove how and what happened. I did not think, personally, that we should have to try to prove what happened to us because I think it is general knowledge that this all went on in each and every institution.

Ms Hegarty —I went to my solicitor in the city and he drew me a graph. It is supposed to be 33,000 each.

CHAIR —That is for stage 2, yes.

Ms Hegarty —It states in the paper that we are all supposed to be getting—I mean ‘supposed to be’ because the solicitor said to me that we ain’t getting 33,000 because that is just squares on a piece of paper. He said to me they are going to measure how much we are getting by the abuse we went through. Nobody can measure what we went through. They do not know; they have not got the proof. They should have the proof, it should be all recorded and the government should have all of those reports. When I went to get my mum’s and my grandmother’s for the family tree, there is a lot of stuff that ain’t there that I have been told as a child.

CHAIR —These are the records, Ms Hegarty; they are not good.

Ms Hegarty —They are not, they are not true to the facts. Nobody can measure all of the punishment—mentally, spiritually and physically—that we went through, and that money ain’t enough. Like I keep saying to myself, I am thankful for small mercies. I am willing to take anything, but if I had the choice, I would sue the government for everything.

CHAIR —You do have that choice, but it is difficult.

Ms Hegarty —Yes, but I do not know—

CHAIR —That is one of the big issues about the Redress Scheme: it is either the Redress Scheme or legal action.

Ms Hegarty —Yes, but when we signed that paper—

CHAIR —That is right, when you sign the paper to go to the Redress Scheme that means you cannot go a legal route.

Ms Hegarty —That is exactly what happened with the stolen wages. But what is a piece of paper? A piece of paper can be ripped up, burnt, thrown away, anything. So where is the proof that we signed anything? They did it in government books.

CHAIR —Records.

Ms Hegarty —It is on record.

CHAIR —It is an interesting concept about the veracity of records.

Ms Hegarty —You cannot fight government.

CHAIR —Mrs Stevenson, do you have any comments about the Redress Scheme?

Mrs Stevenson —I do not think it went far enough with us. We needed more choice. To get that much money to start with, that was very heartening for everybody, because they have been through so much, a lot of stuff, and we waited for this—

Ms Hegarty —And we are still waiting.

Mrs Stevenson —We are still waiting, but the government finally recognised it. The money is not enough to get people back on track, it just isn’t. I do not know if they realise that. I know nobody has all of the money in the world, but we need something more than just the money.

CHAIR —So it is the amount that you are unhappy with?

Mrs Stevenson —We should be happy with it, but I think that for all of the pain people have been through, you just cannot buy that. Something needs to happen with that redress as well, somewhere in between. I do not know what, but it will be figured out.

CHAIR —Ms Tronc, do you have any comments on the Redress Scheme?

Ms Tronc —Yes, I have a few. I found it very traumatic. Its impact was a double whammy on me and also on my son. We are still trying to get through it, but we are getting there. I am quite disappointed with the outcome, really. The main thing I also want to talk about is research and history and what is going to happen to our documentation. If anything ever happened to us, what is going to happen with all of the stuff that we do have? I feel it should be put into some museum or archive or something, something happening to all of this redress stuff as well, because it is something horrific that has happened to us human beings in this country. It should be filed in some adequate place where it can be viewed by the public and taught more through the school system. They may then understand a lot more about us in time, and also more about the stolen generation as well. That information could also, for my family, go back through to the Samuel Griffith Society.

Mrs Lovely —I would also like to add that it was not only us who were affected, but our children as well. Our children have suffered immensely because of what us care leavers went through. I might be wrong in saying that. I cannot speak for everyone, but I know in my situation my children suffered because of the way I was. I was in care—I was fostered out as well, so that was a double whammy. My foster care, more so than being in the orphanage, was my main problem and it affected me as a human being, so therefore it affected my children that I had. I love my children dearly. When they suffer, I suffer. I guess it could be a lot of other people’s children as well that have suffered. Would I be right in saying that?

CHAIR —We have heard a lot of evidence about that.

Mrs Lovely —There you go. It would be great if somehow our children could benefit, that something could be made up for them because we have put that suffering on them.

CHAIR —Do you have something to add to do with redress?

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —Yes, I would like to say something too. It was a good idea to have a redress. It is a great thing to have. It gives us a chance to write to the government and let them know how we did all suffer and it lets us be heard, lets our stories go and be heard. I want to say also that we had no choice about being put into the institutions; we were put in and we were entrusted to care. We were entrusted to care for our well-being and our health and education. Of course, that did not happen. There was no care of duty; they did not do it. So when someone does not do the care of duty, they are in trouble. Anyway, apart from that, when we did speak up, we were not believed. I think it is great that it is going out.

CHAIR —We have run out of time. It is always difficult; we always run out of time. Thank you very much for giving evidence today. For some of you, I know this is at least the second time you have given evidence to one of these inquiries. We do appreciate that. If there is anything you think we should know that you have not been able to share with us today, please be in contact with us as there is still time. Allowing for the fact that this inquiry is looking specifically at those previous recommendations, we are trying to make sure that some progress is made. Thank you all.

Proceedings suspended from 10.49 am to 11.08 am