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The long wait for sorry - a special report -

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TONY JONES: It's more than 11 years since hundreds of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders put
their faith in a national inquiry and told what it was like to be forcibly removed from their
family. Their evidence was tabled in the Bringing Them Home Report and led to the report's author,
the late Sir Ronald Wilson, to label what happened as genocide. Well, central to his
recommendations was a national apology. In the long wait for sorry, many of the Stolen Generation
have died and many of those still alive have mixed feelings about a day they thought they'd never
see. And Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this report from Philippa
MacDonald may contain images of deceased persons.

VAL LINOW, ACTIVIST: I was two and a half and I got taken down to the Bombaderry children's home
and I stayed down there until about nine. I didn't know I had any relations. I only had my two
sisters down in Bombaderry children's home and one of my younger sisters died down there.

MARY HOOKER, COMMUNITY WORKER: The magistrate said how would you kids like to go on a train
journey, a holiday until your mum gets better and as kids we said yeah, exciting. I was happy.

ARCHIE ROACH, MUSICIAN: I never got a chance to meet Mum and Dad again, but recently I've seen
photos. I met Mum's sister and Dad's brother so I suppose that's the closest I'll come to my mum
and dad, yeah.

PHILIPPA MACDONALD: Eleven years ago a national inquiry examined hundreds of cases like these -
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who had been removed from their families. The
Bringing Them Home Report found that over six decades there was a policy which saw up to one third
of children forcibly taken from their parents, in many cases solely because of their Aboriginality.
And while some removals may have been justified at the time by allegations of abuse and neglect,
the inquiry concluded the abuse many subsequently suffered at the hands of authorities permanently
scarred their lives.

MARY HOOKER: They took us off my parents saying that we were being neglected from my parents, but
they neglected us far more. They abused me, raped me, denied me from food, kept me from the girls
in solitary confinement.

PHILIPPA MACDONALD: In 1970, Mary Hooker's mother attempted suicide after the death of her new born
son. Mary and her brothers and sisters were taken by the authority.

MARY HOOKER: I was at school and the police car pulled up and the welfare officer and in the car
was my other brothers and sister, the youngest was my uncle, he was two months old. They were
crying, I couldn't work out why they were crying.

PHILIPPA MACDONALD: The next chapter in Mary Hooker's life revolved around dissolving her
Aboriginal identity. Because she had an Indian grandfather she was told her heritage was Indian.

Val Linow is now 66, she was moved to a children's home hundreds of kilometres away from her family
before she was three. She was locked in a storeroom for daring to suggest she had a mother.

VAL LINOW: They locked me in there because they told me to stop calling out to my mum, that I
didn't have a mum. So I believed I never had a mum or a dad.

PHILIPPA MACDONALD: That was far from the worst of it. Of nine children in her family, three died
in the State's care and Val Linow was to receive victims of crime compensation for the brutal
treatment she suffered as a teenage domestic help on an outback property.

VAL LINOW: I stayed there for six months and in that six months I was belted with a fence wire and
repeatedly raped.

ARCHIE ROACH: The hurt, the pain that, you know, you still feel. See, it never goes away, no
matter. I'm 53 years of age, it never, it just subsides the pain, the hurt and I don't know when
it's going to well up in me. So I need to maybe close that, you know.

ARCHIE ROACH (SINGS): The welfare and the policeman; Well they said you've got to understand;
Because we give to them what you can't give.

PHILIPPA MACDONALD: Singer songwriter Archie Roche was so young when he was taken away from his
parents he doesn't remember it.

ARCHIE ROACH (SINGS): Humiliated them instead.

PHILIPPA MACDONALD: He grew up in foster homes thinking his family were killed in a house fire
until his sister turned up to tell him his mother had just died when he was 15.

ARCHIE ROACH: And told me that I had brothers and sisters still alive and so I just went off the
rails a bit and typical of most Aboriginal blokes at that time, just the streets and the drink and
in and out of jail and what not.

VAL LINOW: This is what I'm going to wear in Canberra.

PHILIPPA MACDONALD: As Val Linow sees it, tomorrow is the big day. She's been invited to witness
the apology in Parliament and speak in the Great Hall afterwards.

VAL LINOW: Apology to me is to acknowledge the past, what happened to the Aborigine and the Torres
Strait childrens. What the policy has done to the Aborigine people. It's very important because the
acknowledgement has been done, it might make me go a bit forward and my family go a bit forward. As
my family said they can never go forward for what they done in the past. It's very hurtful for,
because my, our family could have been alive today, sharing this wonderful day hearing the apology.

PHILIPPA MACDONALD: Mary Hooker hopes sorry is just the start.

MARY HOOKER: It's got to be more than sorry. It's got to be sorry business. Anyone can say sorry,
you know, but it's got to be meaningful and the action that comes after that what the government
does after that will mean so much more to us than just him saying sorry.

ARCHIE ROACH: I don't know about anybody else but I believe that, you know, a lot of Aboriginal
people will just probably sink to their knees. I will anyway, in I don't know, relief, gratitude,
of praise of just being in this wonderful country at last.

ARCHIE ROACH (SINGS): Back to their father; Back to their sisters;

PHILIPPA MACDONALD: But for others like 70-year-old Frank Byrne who was taken from his mother at
the age of five, tomorrow's apology is too little too late.

FRANK BYRNE, STOLEN GENERATION ALLIANCE: Look, I lived in sorrow and anger because my mother I
thought of her all my lifetime, I couldn't I couldn't I couldn't accept any sorry after what's
happened to me and my mother.

ARCHIE ROACH (SINGS): The children came there; Yeah, I came back.