South australian stolen generations reparations scheme

Mr DULUK (Waite) (12:36): I also rise to say a few words on the Premier's motion before the house in relation to the report by the Independent Assessor, the Hon. John Hill, in terms of the South Australian Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme. I am glad, as I think are all sides of the house, that this has now become a bipartisan issue.

For much of the last parliament, the then government did not want to take serious steps in terms of appropriate reparations on this matter. The original bill was introduced in the upper house back in 2014 as a result of the work of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, which I now serve on. I recall saying back in 2015 that the bill was about righting the historical wrong of forcibly removing children from their parents solely on the basis of the colour of their skin.

As the Premier and the Minister for Education remarked in their contributions, I urge members to take the opportunity to get their hands on the report and read the applicants' submissions, their experiences and what they went through. One of the important lessons that we have perhaps learned from the wrongs of the past is around the taking away of language, the importance of language to people and what language means. The more we can do to preserve language for this nation—any language but, in this context, Indigenous language—is so important for the identity of so many people. As a government, we have talked so much about the wrongs of the past, and it is important.

I give full credit to the Premier as the minister responsible for the balance of funds in the reparations scheme. Some additional $10,000 will be given to the 312 successful applicants under the scheme as part of the residual tail in funding. What is important is what we can do, in terms of practical steps going forward, to further walk down the path of reconciliation. It is not just a statement of acknowledgement, which is so important, but a statement of what more needs to be done.

We must also acknowledge that there is dysfunction in many Indigenous communities. There are standards of living, standards of crime and standards of health outcomes that we just would not accept in any other community in Australia. It is our job, in government and in those communities, to collectively, practically and hastily correct a lot of those social ills. It is important to do so. Bearing in mind that we have recognised the sins of the past, it is the responsibility of us all to ensure that Australians, no matter where they live, have the best possible outcomes going forward.

Going back to the language component, the teaching and continuation of language and culture is so important to so many of us, no matter where we come from. That plays an important role in terms of reconciliation.

The Prime Minister is today speaking about Closing the Gap, which addresses some of the recommendations that came out of the national apology 11 years ago. The 11th Closing the Gap report is being handed down today and reveals a decade-long failure to meet so many of the targets that were set 11 years ago in relation to health, education, employment and life expectancy outcomes for Indigenous communities. These targets have not been met, and that is a failing of federal, state and local governments and a failing of our Australian community more broadly.

As part of the Closing the Gap initiatives announced by Prime Minister Morrison today, a huge injection of education funding—$200 million—is to be implemented into 300 schools across the nation in order to keep Indigenous children in school and to design our whole education system.

One thing I always talk about in this chamber is how providing the right education to all Australians is a great way of lifting people out of poverty and other circumstances and empowering individuals to make the right choices. In his contribution, the member for Giles referred to Uncle Jack and making the right choices in people's lives.

I commend the work of Reconciliation SA in promoting reconciliation and healing the rift between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. I am proud to be a board member and parliamentary representative, along with the member for Giles. Reconciliation SA also looks at practical ways in which we can raise recognition, and the need for our communities to work together and stand together.

I commend the recent work of this government, and specifically the Premier for his whole-of-government approach to reconciliation. This side of the house believes it should no longer be a symbolic term and gesture, or a politically correct echo chamber platitude, but a practical component, which is so important. Having a whole-of-government approach and ensuring that government departments in their entirety have an Indigenous focus is so important. As I said at the beginning of my contribution, an important part of reconciliation is recognition of stolen generations and additional funding by way of reparations.

Governments cannot solve all the problems in this policy area, and nor should they be seen as the sole body that can do so. In the past year, the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee received a lot of evidence from Aboriginal communities all around South Australia, including from your communities, Deputy Speaker. In the evidence presented to our committee, in terms of the operational review of the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act, one of the overwhelming views was the right to autonomy and the right to the responsibility to make decisions for themselves. I think it is so important that we as the state government ensure that every single South Australian is treated equally and given the rights and responsibilities they need to make the correct choices in their own lives.

In closing, I encourage members to obtain a copy of the Report of the South Australian Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme. I thank the Independent Assessor, the Hon. John Hill, for his work. More importantly, I thank those individuals—I think there were some 400-odd individuals who applied under the scheme and 312 successful applicants—for coming forward, for sharing their stories and for allowing themselves to be in some way acknowledged for the hurt caused to them and their families for no reason other than where, when and why they were born.