WORLD / ASIA-PACIFIC
Australia's government sued over 'Stolen Generations' child removals
Published: Apr 28, 2021 07:33 PM
Hundreds of Indigenous Australians who were forcibly removed from their families as children are suing the government in a class action launched on Wednesday that seeks compensation for the injustice.

Thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youths were taken from their homes and put in foster care with white families, under official assimilation policies that persisted into the 1970s.

Now known as the "Stolen Generations," they were routinely punished for speaking their own languages or ­practicing their culture, and many never saw their parents or siblings again.

Tristan Gaven, counsel at Shine ­Lawyers, said the legal firm filed a class action Wednesday on behalf of almost 800 impacted people in the Northern Territory, with thousands more believed eligible to join the lawsuit.

While other Australian states have set up redress schemes for Indigenous members of the "Stolen Generations," the federal government, which had legal responsibility for the Territory when the removals took place, has not followed suit.

"The Commonwealth was responsible for tearing apart Indigenous families in the Territory and it's up to the Commonwealth to make amends," Gaven said.

"It's impossible to improve the future, without acknowledging the past."

It is the first class action of its kind in the Territory, which is home to about 250,000 people - almost one-third of whom are Indigenous.

The lawsuit is being funded by ­Litigation Lending Services, which also backed an action by Indigenous ­Australians over unpaid wages in neighboring Queensland state that was resolved in 2019.

Shine Lawyers said the amount of compensation sought was yet to be determined but, if successful, the lender was expected to receive a 20 percent commission.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken ­Wyatt did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is scheduled for an initial court hearing in June.
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