April 7, 2005
The state Premier of Western Australia (WA), Dr Geoff Gallop, gave an apology to children physically and sexually abused in institutional care within the state between the 1920s and 1970s. The statement was given in reaction to an Australian Senate inquiry into institutional child abuse published last year.
“We acknowledge our state’s history, the role played by the state in providing care for children and particularly past practices in the provision of care,” Dr Gallop told Australian Associated Press.
“We apologise to all those people who were harmed as children while in institutional care, and express deep regret at the hurt and distress caused. We recognise that the effects of physical, psychological and sexual abuse did not end when these children became adults.”
Many of the children had been placed in care by government agencies.
“Overwhelmingly, the (submissions) make tragic and distressing reading. They tell of neglect, of shocking abuse, of predatory behaviour from so-called carers and of criminal activity,” Senator McLucas told federal parliament at the time of the Forgotten Australians report, last year.
“The evidence is also there that authorities in the church and in governments either knew or should have known that much of this horrific activity was occurring.”
The inquiry found that an apology was an important symbolism in recognising past wrongs and helping victims gain closure, according to an ABC News report. And Dr Gallop said the victims’ personal histories must be heard and acknowledged in order to build a better care system for the future.
WA’s Community Development Minister, Sheila McHale, said those wishing to find out about their time in care in WA as children should contact the Department for Community Development, which is also providing counselling services to those who were abused in an institution.