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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 4302


Senator MOORE (12:23 PM) —I want to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of a number of people who are survivors of care in this country as well as those people who support them and members of their families. Today I want to acknowledge their patience in waiting for this report to be brought down and I also reflect that that patience is part of the lives that they have led, because they have been forgotten—in fact, they have been lost. Those were the issues that were the titles of our previous reports in this place. In 2001 and 2004, the Senate brought down inquiries that exposed the horror of some experiences of care in this country.

At that time, there was great media interest. There were statements made. I still believe that the day in 2004 that Forgotten Australians: a report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children was brought down was one of the most moving experiences for everybody in this place. However, our Community Affairs References Committee believes that, whilst there were so many recommendations made in those previous inquiries, there was a need to go back to have a look at just how much work had been done and whether in fact there had been real implementation and acceptance of the recommendations. We all know that recommendations are made and not always agreed, but our committee felt that time had gone by and we had continued to have experiences working with the people who had given their own lives to our committee. They had come to us talking about their experiences and expressing their pain and frustration, and so many of us shared those experiences. We felt we needed to go back to see what had occurred.

Senator Siewert has pointed out most of the recommendations our committee has made, and I promise this gallery and this place that we will not forget the people who are known as forgotten Australians or those people who are identified as child migrants.

An incident having occurred in the gallery—


Senator MOORE —For the sake of the process in the Senate, I ask the gallery if it could not always applaud; we can do that outside! I know there are other members of the committee who wish to speak.

This issue will continue. There will not be a process of being forgotten by anyone in this place. We will work with governments—we must. I think there will be some disappointment, because I do not think we will be able to meet all the needs that people have expressed. But in terms of making a commitment from the people who have worked together so strongly on this issue over many committees—I see that Senator McLucas, who was the chair of the committee in 2004, has come in. Today I also want to take particular note of Senator Andrew Murray, who did so much in this place and outside in the committee to keep these issues on the agenda. Whenever we have discussion in this place about the work for people who are known as ‘lost innocents’ or forgotten Australians, Senator Andrew Murray’s name will be held high, because his work continues as well.

Where do we go from here? This committee report will be put on the process today. We will go back to the government and also to the governments at state levels because we know there is a shared responsibility here. We must continue to work together on these issues. These people’s lives must now be acknowledged; no longer can people be referred to as ‘lost’ or ‘forgotten’.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bernardi)—Before I call the next speaker, I remind the gallery that it is inappropriate to burst into spontaneous acclamation, no matter how happy you are with the proceedings of the Senate. I ask that you remain quiet while the speakers are speaking.