Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Canada commission details abuse of native children

Canada commission details abuse of native children

Two mixed-race children stand either side of an InuitNative children were taken from their families and sent to boarding schools

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A commission examining Canada's policy to separate indigenous children from their families says the abuse created a legacy of turmoil.
From the country's formation in the 19th Century until the 1970s, the children had to attend schools where they were stripped of their identity.
Many of the 150,000 children also suffered physical abuse from the staff at the church-run boarding schools.
An interim report says children left the schools "as lost souls".
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report, They Came for the Children, says their lives were "soon to be cut short by drugs, alcohol and violence".
It concludes that the schools were an assault on indigenous children, their families, culture and their nations.
Native Canadians remain among the poorest members of society, with many still living on reserves.
The commission was formed as part of a landmark settlement in 2006 that included more than C$2bn (£1.3bn) compensation for surviving former children and their families.
It has already taken 25,000 statements from survivors, visited about 500 communities and has heard from about 100 former school employees.

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There is an opportunity now for Canadians to engage in this work, to make their own contributions to reconciliation, and to create new truths about our country”
Truth and Reconciliation Commission interim report
The schools were set up to assimilate native children into Canadian society.
The report starts with a quote from Hector Langevin, the Public Works Minister of Canada in 1883: "In order to educate the children properly, we must separate them from their families. Some people may say that this is hard, but if we want to civilise them we must do that.''
The federal government acknowledged 10 years ago that physical and sexual abuse in the schools was widespread.
Many students recall being beaten for speaking their native languages and losing touch with their parents and customs.
"It is commonly said that it takes a village to raise a child," said commission chairman Justice Murray Sinclair during a press conference to present the report on Friday.
"The government of Canada took little children away from their villages and placed them into institutions that were the furthest things from a village you could expect," he said
The report said the result was damaged relations within aboriginal families and with Canadian society at large.
It calls for a comprehensive programme of education to help the process of reconciliation.
The report concludes: "There is an opportunity now for Canadians to engage in this work, to make their own contributions to reconciliation, and to create new truths about our country."
A final report is due to be published in 2014.

Monday, February 6, 2012

PUBLIC FORUM: Exploring sexual violence and institutionalisation in the ACT

The Women’s Centre for Health Matters Inc. is a community based organisation that uses social research, advocacy, community development and health promotion to empower women to enhance their health and wellbeing.

PUBLIC FORUM: Exploring sexual violence and institutionalisation in the ACT

Monday 20th of February
2pm – 4pm
National Library of Australia, Conference room (4th Floor)

From the moment of colonisation there has been institutionalisation in Australia, when thousands of women, men and children arrived as convicts. Since this time women have experienced institutionalisation in diverse settings including prisons, juvenile detention centres, aged care, psychiatric units, detoxification or rehabilitation centres, children’s homes and refugee detention centres. Women have experienced these institutions differently to men because of gendered life circumstances.
Sexual violence affects almost 1 in 5 Australian women, and women who have been institutionalised are more likely to have experienced sexual violence either prior to institutionalisation or while institutionalised.
Join us to hear from a variety of speakers who will explore the relationship between sexual violence and institutionalisation. Women speakers will draw on both personal experiences and broader perspectives to approach the topic from the view of women living with mental health issues, women in prison, women with disability and women Forgotten Australians. We will also hear from local Greens leader Meredith Hunter MLA and a curator of the NLA Forgotten Australians Oral History Project.

This public forum is part of Summer of Respect, the ACT Women’s Services Network’s summer-long anti-sexual violence campaign. It hopes to raise awareness about how the issues of sexual violence and institutionalisation affect women in our community, and how we can support women who have experienced this trauma and stop sexual violence from happening in the future.

Please RSVP to for catering purposes or for more information contact Laura Pound from the Women’s Centre for Health Matters on 6290 2166 or

This event is supported by:
ACT Women and Mental Health Working Group

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reinstatement of some Medicare supported counselling.

Minister for Mental Health and Ageing
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform
Minister for Social Inclusion
1 February 2012


In the 2011-12 Budget, the Gillard Government brought in changes to the Better Access program to deliver a mental health package that better targeted and supported some of the most disadvantaged people in our community.

The changes to Better Access allow us to rebalance our investments across new and innovative services that target and address mental illness throughout a person’s lifespan.

While Better Access was neither designed nor intended to provide intensive services or ongoing therapy for people with severe and persistent mental illness, the Government acknowledges there are some people with more complex needs who have come to rely on the program for support.

We recognise that reducing the number of rebatable sessions has caused some community concern and that the new services in our mental health package need to build further capacity before they are fully able to provide care and support to those with more complex needs.

We will therefore reinstate the additional 6 services under ‘exceptional circumstances’ for a transitional period to 31 December 2012. The transitional period will provide sufficient time for our new mental health services to build capacity and effectively respond to people with more complex needs.

The standard number of rebatable sessions under Better Access will remain at 10, consistent with the program’s focus on people with mental disorders where short term interventions are most likely to be useful. However, this change means that eligible individuals can receive up to 16 services in the transitional period where ‘exceptional circumstances’ apply.

In addition, individuals will continue to be able to receive Medicare rebates for ten group therapy services per calendar year on top of their individual sessions. People with more severe and ongoing mental disorders can also be referred to Medicare subsidised consultant psychiatrist services (where 50 sessions can be provided per year), or to other specialised mental health services.

Individuals will be eligible for an additional 6 allied mental health services under ‘exceptional circumstances’ from 1 March 2012 until 31 December 2012.

Invitation to a discussion session about Find & Connect – a national web resource for the Forgotten Australians

Monday 23 January 2012

Invitation to a discussion session. 
Find & Connect – a national web resource for the Forgotten Australians
Tuesday 14 February 2012, 1:00pm – 3.30pm
National Museum of Australia
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing on behalf of the National Find & Connect web resource project team working out of the University of Melbourne and Australian Catholic University. This project has been funded by the Commonwealth Government to create a national Find & Connect web resource through which Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants will be able to search for information about children’s Homes, guides to records of Homes, information about government policies and relevant legislation and other information related to their time in care.  
The Find & Connect web resource can be viewed at Find & Connect comprises eight state/territory websites and an overarching national website. Please note: this web resource is in its first phase; more information will be added over the next three years.
You’ve been identified as a key person whose knowledge and experience would be of value to the development of the Find & Connect web resource.
Members of the Find & Connect project team including Rachel Tropea, Sarah Green and I, will be coming to Canberra on Tuesday 14 February and would like to meet with you – the attached agenda will give you a sense of the matters to be discussed on the day. The meeting will be held at the National Museum of Australia, the exact room location will be posted at the front desk of the Museum.
This is a keystone project that will have a significant impact on building our national identity, and we really welcome your interest and involvement.  Please email me at to rsvp, or call on 03 9035 4760 to discuss. 
Yours sincerely,
Sally Orpin
Communications and Liaison Officer
Find & Connect Project
tel: 03 9035 4760

Initial Stakeholder Meeting
Tuesday 14 February 2012
Time: 1.00pm – 3.30pm
Venue: National Museum of Australia


1. Introductions

2. Purpose of the meeting

3. Introducing the Find & Connect ACT web resource
  • Content of ‘Version 1’
  • Strategies for linking Find & Connect web resource to support services – client liaison, feedback, referrals
  • Underlying principles for working together - the Knowledge Diamond

4. Getting involved with Find & Connect ACT and further development of the web resource (2012-2014)

5. Discussion of key issues, priorities for ACT stakeholders

6. Wrap-up and next steps

Afternoon tea provided

rsvp to Sally Orpin  (preferred) or 03 9035 4760

Getting to the National Museum of Australia.

The National Museum of Australia is located on Acton Peninsula on Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, just a short drive south-west of the city centre. Access is via Lawson Crescent, Acton.

National Museum of Australia
Lawson Crescent
Acton Peninsula
Canberra ACT 2601
Freecall 1800 026 132
Tel +61 2 6208 5000
Fax +61 2 6208 5148


  • All on-site parking is free and has a 4-hour limit.
  • Disabled parking facilities are available close to the National Museum's main entrance.
  • A bus and coach parking area is close to the main entrance.
  • Parking areas for caravans, motorhomes, campervans and trailers are also available.



Local bus services

  • Action bus number 3 operates to the National Museum on weekdays and number 934 on the weekends. For route and timetable information and fares visit the ACTION website.
  • The Explorer Bus offers a tour bus service to tourist attractions in the national capital. For route and timetable information and fares visit the Canberra Day Tours website.



  • Enjoy a walk to the National Museum from the city on the bicycle/walking paths along the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin.
  • A map of walking paths can be found on the ACT Planning and Land Authority website.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012