The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 14:49 :58 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation on the topic of Stolen Generations compensation.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: As members are well aware this is National Reconciliation Week. Indeed, we should be very proud of our role in this past week, also marking the anniversary of the 1997 apology by Dean Brown to the Stolen Generations, the first in the country. We know there has been a bill passed in the council that was supported by all but Labor elected members for stolen generations compensation. Obviously, I introduced a Bill that went to a committee inquiry that was supported by all members of that inquiry by the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee.
In response to questions in the previous week's sitting, the minister advised the Hon. Terry Stephens, through the processes of question time, that he would be conducting meetings and that he would be coming back with some statements about that. I ask the Minister: what concerns does the government continue to hold with regard to a Stolen Generations reparations or compensation scheme? How are those meetings progressing? In what time frame will the Government be making a statement on this issue?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:51 :26 ): I thank the honourable member for her question and her continuing interest in this matter and the efforts she has gone to to progress this matter in the past and also her continuing efforts to inquire about this and keep the matter alive at the moment. As I have previously said, I have been having a range of meetings, the most recent one, I think, the week before last, organised by the ALRM with a number of their clients who have been affected by past forced removals. That was a meeting with about 25 or 30 members of the stolen generations at Tauondi College. I want to place on the record my thanks to the ALRM for organising that meeting. It was very instructive to me, as a minister, to hear a range of issues.
There are a number of issues that are of concern that will form the basis of the next steps that are taken in relation to righting some of the wrongs of the past, in terms of first removal of Aboriginal children. Some of the areas that were of concern from that meeting, and from other meetings I have had, include: better recognition and acknowledgement of what happened; a better understanding of the history of these issues, particularly through education. As the honourable member has mentioned, there are bills that have been before the council before. Individual compensation is an issue; better access to information, both held by government and by churches and other organisations; issues such as public recognition, memorials, healing gardens and other things; and also, about what changes to make in future policy to make sure that what has happened in the past does not happen in the future.
I will still be consulting further on what the next steps are. In the coming months, when there are more decisions about what those next steps are, I can assure members who are interested in this matter that I will talk to them. I haven't got a finite time frame on when there will be decisions about what those next steps are, but I can assure members that I will keep them informed as we go forward.