Apology from: WA Parliamentary Statement

7th April 2005

On 7 April 2005, Western Australia issued an apology to ‘people who were harmed in institutional care’ over the period covered by the Forgotten Australians report.  The apology took the form of a parliamentary statement of apology.  The statement read:

The recent report of the Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care highlights the experiences of many Western Australians who were in institutional care from the early 20th Century until the 1970s.

The Western Australian Government welcomes the report and acknowledges its findings that many children in the institutions suffered neglect or abuse at the hands of some of the adults entrusted with their care. Many of these children were placed in the institutions by past Government agencies.

The report calls upon State Governments to issue formal statements acknowledging their role in the administration of institutional care arrangements and apologising for physical, psychological and social harm caused to the children in the institutions.

Accordingly this Government apologises to all those people who were harmed as children while in institutional care and expresses deep regret at the hurt and distress this caused.

We recognise that the effects of the physical, psychological or sexual abuse did not end when these children became adults and that for some of these people the experiences are still as deeply felt today.

We are committed to support victims of abuse in institutions through the provision of counselling and information. Since 1985 the Department for Community Development has had a dedicated information officer to provide personal information to former Wards.

The Department has produced Looking West – a Guide to Aboriginal Records in Western Australia to assist in the location of records for this significant group.

Another publication, Signposts to be launched next month, will guide people who were children in residential care from 1920 onwards to agencies where their records might be located.

Counselling is also provided on request through the Department to any person who experienced abuse in an institution or out-of-home care. It is important to learn from the past.

This Government is committed to the improvement and enhancement of services to children in out of home care to ensure they are not subjected to abuse or neglect.

Quality assurance processes have been strengthened and additional resources have been provided to the Department for Community Development for better management, supervision and support of children in care.