Bringing them Home. Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families

Bringing them Home. Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families Report

National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families

  • Author(s): Australasian Legal Information Institute,
  • Published: 1997
  • Publisher: Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission,

Abstract: The scope of the Inquiry - Tracing the history: The Inquiry's term of reference (a) required it to "trace the past laws, practices and policies which resulted in the separation of Indigenous children from their families by compulsion, duress or undue influence". The Inquiry interpreted the term compulsion to encompass removals by officially authorised use of force or coercion, as well as by illegally exercised force or coercion. It extends both to the removal of a child by a government delegate and on a court order. Duress differs from compulsion in that it can be achieved without the actual application of force, although threats or moral pressure are usually involved. Duress does not exclude acceptance by those affected by it. The term undue influence has a meaning similar to duress. It was understood by the Inquiry as an influence by which persons are induced not to act of their own free will. In the context of the Inquiry, this meant placing improper pressure on families to induce the surrender of children. Services and procedures available: Term of reference (b) required the Inquiry to "examine the adequacy of and the need for any changes in current laws, practices and policies relating to services currently available" to those affected by forcible removal. This directed the Inquiry to examine services and procedures available to those affected by reason of experiences of forcible removal or in order to remedy the effects on them of forcible removal. [Recommendations 21-40] Principles justifying compensation: Term of reference (c) required the Inquiry to "examine the principles relevant to determining the justification for compensation for persons or communities affected by such separations". The Inquiry concluded that an appropriate and adequate response to the history and effects of removals requires reparations, including monetary compensation for defined victims. [Recommendations 3-20] Current placement and care: Term of reference (d) required the Inquiry to "examine current laws, practices and policies with respect to the placement and care" of Indigenous children and to "advise on any changes required taking into account the principle of self-determination". The Inquiry found that self-determination for Indigenous peoples provides the key to reversing the over-representation of Indigenous children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and to eliminating unjustified removals of Indigenous children from their families and communities.

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Suggested Citation
Australasian Legal Information Institute,, 1997, Bringing them Home. Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, Report, viewed 13 June 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=5493.

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