Survivors of the Northern Territory’s Stolen Generation are coming together to sue the federal government for compensation for the trauma they were subjected to as children.
Represented by Shine Lawyers, the survivors will be taking a class action against the government to court, seeking to be compensated for their loss of connection to their land and culture.
Special counsel Tristan Gaven told the ABC that he had been looking into a class action in the Northern Territory for months, saying that the decision to take action against the Commonwealth was because the Territory didn’t become fully self-governing until the 1970s.
According to Mr Gaven, most other states have offered compensation to Stolen Generation survivors, however, the Northern Territory was yet to do so.
“We think to date the government has provided services and things like that, but ultimately, actual compensation payable to group members or members of the Stolen Generations is an important first step in acknowledging the pain and suffering that those people have suffered.”
The plaintiffs have not announced how much compensation they will be seeking.
Despite the Labor party in 2018 promising that members of the Northern Territory Stolen Generation would receive $75,000 each under a national compensation scheme, the scheme never came to fruition. The federal government said last year it opposed paying compensation, claiming no established legal requirement for them to do so.
However, Mr Gaven is confident the class action will be successful.
“This is a case that is going to cost many millions of dollars and if we didn’t think we could win it, and if the litigation funder and the barristers didn’t think that we could win it, we simply wouldn’t do it,” he said.
Estimates say that up to 6,000 Indigenous Australians are eligible to join the class action, which was filed to the NSW supreme court earlier today.
With over 60 years of forcible removals of Indegenous Australians from their families, the class action is seeking registration of survivors who were taken from their families before 1978.
“It’s impossible to improve the future without acknowledging the past,” Mr Gaven told SBS.
“The Commonwealth was responsible for tearing apart Indigenous families in the Territory and it’s up to the Commonwealth to make amends.”
With financing from Litigation Lending Services, the class action will seek to make amends for the injustice in the Northern Territory.
“If this was to happen today, there would be serious public global outrage and criminal charges laid on all involved for these barbaric acts,” LLS director Warren Mundine told SBS.