Healing wānanga set up for survivors of Stolen Generation

By Aroha Mane

Since the apology to Australia’s Stolen Generation in 2008, the Royal Commission has received almost 7000 applications for redress and there are questions around whether the process is effective.

However, through self-driven cultural healing camps, they’ve started their own journey towards healing.

“We can never let go of these memories. People say to you must get over it. You don't get over what's happened to you. You can never throw that away. That memory will always linger on till the day you pass,” says Charlie Knight.

At 12-months-old, Charlie was taken from his whānau. For more than 15 years he was tossed between boarding houses in foster homes. Beaten and sexually abused he eventually ended up on the streets.

“The impact on my life it's about knowing where you come from. Knowing your belonging, who are you? Are and the person that people say you are. I don't know my culture. My dignity was taken from me.”

Charlie was asked to share his story when the Government announced a Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse in 2013. It was the first step toward healing.

“It's not about money. It's about you yourself, your people, your family, and I'm happy that the Govt has agreed to it.”

Since it opened nearly two years ago around 7000 applications for justice have been lodged, of that 30% have been successful.

Victoria Aboriginal Child Care agency CEO Muriel Bamblett says, “I think there's a lot of things wrong with the scheme. Its assessment process there's lots of issues around flexibility and getting services through redress. We got to demonstrate that you meet the criteria and you know how long that takes.”

On top of that survivors can't access redress if the institution they were abused in has not signed up to the scheme. It's for this reason that Suzanne Nelson has decided to take her fight to the courts.

“What happened to me in the children's home was seen and heard, and nothing was ever done about it. So I felt that I had to do something.

"But what's really ironic about it all is that we are going back into a system, the same system that removed us the same system that failed to protect us to now get justice."

Suzanne and Charlie have pursued different paths towards justice but they are connected through the Ngarra Jarra Noun programme.  Their healing journey begins where the survivors are taken out to the country to cultural healing camps.

By Rachael Hocking
Source: NITV News