Australia apologizing to kids in state care
'It caused an enormous amount of pain'
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 | 12:55 PM ET Comments6Recommend13
The Associated Press
Australia's government will follow its historic apology to Aborigines for past injustices with a similar apology next month to people who suffered as children in state care during the last century.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will lead the apology on Nov. 16 for neglect and abuse of children without families, Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin announced Tuesday in Canberra.
"It's an opportunity for us all to recognize that what was done was wrong, that it caused an enormous amount of pain," Macklin told reporters.
A 2004 Senate report said more than 500,000 Australian children were placed in foster homes, orphanages and other institutions during the 20th century.
They are often referred to as "forgotten Australians." Many were emotionally, physically and sexually abused in state care.
A 2001 report said between 6,000 and 30,000 children from Britain and Malta, often taken from unmarried mothers or impoverished families, were sent on their own to Australia in the last century.
Both Senate reports recommended that the government apologize for the abuses and assaults that many suffered in institutions and foster care.
But then Prime Minister John Howard rejected those recommendations, as well as a government-commissioned report in 1997 that called for a national apology for Australia's treatment of Aborigines since European settlement in 1788. Howard argued that contemporary Australians should not take responsibility for mistakes made by past generations.
One of Rudd's first acts in Parliament after his election victory in November 2007 was to formally apologize to Aborigines.