NSW govt to apologise over forced adoption
21st August 2012
Updated 24th August 2012
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell says an official apology to victims of forced adoption won't change the past but it might ease the pain of mothers whose babies were taken.
An estimated 150,000 Australian babies born between the 1950s and 70s were taken from their mostly young and single mothers.
Mr O'Farrell told parliament it was hard to imagine the grief and trauma of the mothers.
"An apology for the women, the children, the fathers and the families of NSW, who were adversely affected by the practice of forced adoption, has been a long time coming," he said during question time on Tuesday.
"It is time to face the past and reflect on those unlawful and unethical actions.
"It's time to try and ease the pain of those affected.
"We can't change what happened but we can recognise it did occur."
The apology will be delivered during a joint sitting of NSW Parliament in September.
Labor has offered its bipartisan support for the apology.
"This is a significant step for the women and children who, in many cases, were put through unimaginable and lifelong trauma," opposition leader John Robertson said in a statement.
Christine Cole, the convenor of Apology Alliance Australia, which represents survivors of forced adoption, said her baby was taken from her because she was unmarried.
"It left me scarred for the rest of my life," she told ABC Radio.
A federal Senate report, released in February, recommended that Australian governments formally apologise to mothers and children who were victims of past forced adoption practices.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill issued a parliamentary apology in July while his Victorian counterpart Ted Baillieu earlier this month flagged an apology for past injustices.
The Western Australian government has already apologised and the Commonwealth is planning a similar parliamentary motion.
A NSW parliamentary inquiry into forced adoptions was held in 1998.