Stolen Generation survivors file class action against commonwealth

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday April 29, 2021

Warren Mundine
Litigation Lending Services director and Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine. LLS is funding the class action. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

A law firm has estimated that up to 6000 Northern Territory members of the Stolen Generation are eligible for a class action launched against the federal government this week.

Shine Lawyers on Wednesday announced that Stolen Generation survivors in the NT are demanding compensation for the forcible removal from their families as children, from 1910 into the 1970s.

Shine Lawyers special counsel Tristan Gaven said the federal government must make amends for “tearing apart Indigenous families” in the NT.

“It’s impossible to improve the future, without acknowledging the past,” he said in a statement.

“Nearly every state and territory has acted on recommendations to compensate Indigenous Australians who were victims of the Stolen Generation, but nothing has been offered to those affected in the Northern Territory, that’s why we’ve filed this class action.”

The firm has estimated that there are around 4000-6000 First Nations Australians in the NT who are eligible to register for the class action, which has been filed in the New South Wales Supreme Court.

READ MORE: Close the Gap report says 2020 reinforced need for large-scale systemic reform

Litigation Lending Services (LLS) is funding the class action. LLS director and Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine said the government must acknowledge that First Nations People would “never know what life might have been like if this tragic theft of innocence and identity didn’t occur”.

One survivor, Heather Alley, was nine years old when she was taken from her mother. She told Shine Lawyers that she was eventually placed into St Mary’s Hostel in Alice Springs, where she was flogged. The experience left her “very broken for many years”.

“I loved my mother and when she passed away, it took me 30 years to find the strength to even say her name. That’s how much the loss of her shook me,” Alley, now 84, said.

Shine said the case has followed extensive consultation with affected NT community members and the resolution of a similar class action against the Queensland government in 2019.

That class action saw roughly 10,000 Indigenous workers whose wages were stolen by the Queensland government between 1939 and 1972 receive $190m in settlement.

READ MORE: NAIDOC 2019: reconciliation requires more than symbolism


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