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Thursday, 26 August 2021
Page: 8671

Mr WYATT (HasluckMinister for Indigenous Australians) (09:32): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill will facilitate the implementation of certain aspects of the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme, a redress scheme for the stolen generations survivors who were forcibly removed as children from their families in the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory prior to their respective self-government, or the Jervis Bay Territory—as announced by the Prime Minister on 5 August 2021 as part of the Commonwealth's Closing the Gap implementation plan.

The establishment of the scheme represents an important practical step forward to healing this country and reflects our government's commitment to our nation's journey to reconciliation.

The scheme will operate from 1 March 2022 to 30 June 2026, and will be open for applications between 1 March 2022 and 28 February 2026.

The scheme will provide to eligible participants:

A one-off redress payment in recognition of the harm caused by forced removal.

A one-off healing assistance payment in recognition that the action required to facilitate healing will be specific to each individual.

The opportunity, if they choose, to confidentially tell their story about the impact of their removal to a senior official within government and receive a face-to-face or written direct personal response acknowledging the harm caused by removal.

The scheme adopts a survivor focused and trauma informed approach. This means access to the scheme will be simple, and support, including free legal and financial advice, will be available to scheme applicants.

In line with the survivor focused approach of the scheme, this bill will facilitate the delivery of certain aspects of the scheme by ensuring that participants in the scheme will not be adversely affected by receiving a redress payment. This will be achieved by providing that receipt of a redress payment does not:

affect a participant's access to, or eligibility for, any pensions, payments, benefits or services provided by the Commonwealth; or

require the repayment of an amount to the Commonwealth.

The bill also ensures that the payment is absolutely inalienable, which, among other things, means the Commonwealth cannot set off the amount of the redress payment determined under the scheme against amounts owing to the Commonwealth by the participant.

The bill will be supported by the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2021.

These bills will:

support the survivor focused and trauma informed approach of the scheme,

support intergenerational healing,

ensure eligible participants receive the full benefit of their redress payment, and

will positively impact the health and wellbeing of stolen generations survivors, their families and communities.

With many stolen generations survivors being of an advanced age and suffering life-threatening illnesses, the imperative to act now has been brought into sharp focus.

I am pleased to introduce this bill so that the Commonwealth can facilitate steps towards healing.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.