Eileen Cummings says she’s not holding her breath on receiving any compensation ahead of an upcoming class action. Picture: Che Chorley
Eileen Cummings says she’s not holding her breath on receiving any compensation ahead of an upcoming class action. Picture: Che Chorley

Class action to seek millions for Stolen Generations

MEMBERS of the Stolen Generations in the NT could be in line for millions of dollars in compensation as part of a class-action lawsuit for being torn from their families by the Australian government.

The legal action is being spearheaded by Shine lawyers, who will hold an information session on Wednesday for Territorians taken from their homes as part of the commonwealth government program between 1911 and the 1970s and their descendants.

The lawyer handling the class action, Tristan Gaven, said up to 5000 people could be eligible for more than $100,000 each in compensation.

"The census data said there was about 1800 surviving members of the (NT) Stolen Generations in 2016, so all told we don't actually know exactly how many people were removed over that period but it would be in the thousands," he said.

Mr Gaven said while running a parallel suit aimed at recouping wages stolen from Aboriginal workers, lawyers were shocked to learn Stolen Generations families in the NT were yet to receive any compensation.

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"We were really surprised to realise that no compensation had been paid to any members of the Stolen Generations, particularly in circumstances where nearly every other state in the country has paid compensation," he said.

Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation chairwoman Eileen Cummings said the lawsuit was welcome, but she was "not holding my breath".

"We're burying somebody every week because we're all pretty old now, we're in our 70s, 80s and 90s and we're the original kids that were taken away," she said.

"We don't want to build up their hopes and then have them all come crashing down again."

But Ms Cummings said it was time the federal government put its money where its mouth was following then prime minister Kevin Rudd's historic apology in 2008.

"All the other states have had some sort of compensation or reparations from the state governments, but because we've always been under the commonwealth we've never been able to get very far with them," she said.

"It's been a long journey and maybe they may listen to these lawyers this time, I'm not sure but I'm hoping they will because I know Shine is looking at the human part of it all and hopefully that may tickle the conscience of the government."

The information session runs between 4pm and 6pm at the Tracy Village Sports Club.

 

 

 

jason.walls1@news.com.au

 

 

 

Originally published as Class action to seek millions in compo for NT Stolen Generations



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