4th Anniversary of the Federal Apology for Past Forced Adoptions
On Tuesday, 21 March (2017), the Forced Adoption Support Service (Jigsaw Queensland) in association with ALAS, Origins Qld, The Benevolent Society and Association for Adoptees Inc, held a commemorative morning tea to honour the 4th anniversary of the Federal Apology for Past Forced Adoptions. It included an art exhibition, My Adoption Experience, coordinated by Pat Zuber.
The event was well attended and included special guest speaker, Professor Daryl Higgins, Director of the Institute of Child Protection Studies at the Australian Catholic University and co-author of the Australian Institute of Family Studies reports on 'Past Adoption Experiences: National Research Study of the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices' and 'Good practice principles in providing services to those affected by forced adoption and family separation'.
Prof Higgin's speech reminded us that the national apology demonstrated the Australian government's ability to reflect and acknowledge past wrong-doings, which offers us all comfort and hope for the future. He spoke about the importance of commemorating the anniversaries and continued advocacy to ensure that we keep alive what we have learnt about the impacts of family separation on individuals and society. In particular, he highlighted the need for vigilance in ensuring that current policies and practices truly represent the best interests of the child.
There were also reflections from representatives of all partner organisations and closing comments by, Sue Boyce, Deputy Chair of the Senate Committee for Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices.
The My Adoption Experience artworks were diverse, but all reflected the pain and anguish of forced adoption as well as the potential for healing and connection over time. Attendees were prompted by the art to share their own stories and experiences and said the exhibit brought a lot of 'heart' to the day.
As part of the event, all attendees had the opportunity to record their own reflections and display them on a tree. They included:
'Thank you for the validation of the wordless loss and yearning.'
'Key word 'forced' was not part of my thinking before today, but having listened to the speakers, I understand its meaning for the first time.'
'Thankful that the hidden suffering of so many has come to light and that we can share the burden together and build a different future.'
'Sending love, light and peace to all those impacted by these tragic events that occurred.'
On March 21, 2013, the Australian Government delivered a formal apology to people affected by forced adoption or removal policies and practices. The apology was delivered by then-Prime Minister, Julia Gillard in the Great Hall at Parliament House and reflected recommendations made in February 2012 by the Australian Government Senate Committee Inquiry on the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices. The full text and video of that apology can be found here.
This activity was funded by the Small Grants program, Forced Adoption Support Services funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.