National apology plea

Kerri Saint, at home this week, is relieved an apology will be forthcoming from the government for the forgotten victims of state-sponsored kidnapping.
Kerri Saint, at home this week, is relieved an apology will be forthcoming from the government for the forgotten victims of state-sponsored kidnapping. Renee Pilcher

THE Senators had tears in their eyes as they rose to give a three-minute standing ovation to Imbil's Kerri Saint and her fellow forced adoption victims.

It was a moment thousands of Australians have waited for for most of their lives.

Ms Saint was in the public gallery Parliament in Canberra last month as a Senate committee called for a national apology to Ms Saint and all other victims of state-sponsored kidnapping in Australia in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

With her in the gallery were fellow forced adoptees and some mothers who had been drugged, tricked or defrauded of their own children.

Stolen from her birth mother, whose only crime was to be poor, Kerri was sold into virtual slavery and abuse.

She was forced to work in charcoal pits at Inala from the age of five, rejected and punished for not doing her homework, and told constantly how lucky she was to have been adopted while at the mercy of a violent alcoholic man and a woman with mental health problems.

That happened in Brisbane in the 1970s, a time when Australians generally didn't think such things were still going on.

But an evil culture that had no place in any civilised society and for which there was no excuse was wreaking havoc, she said.

Federal Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss had told her that children experienced abuse in many families, "but he shut up when I told him my brothers, still with Mum, had curtains, bedroom doors and electricity" while she did not.

"No one can say it was just the social mores of the time," she said.

"Since when is it anyone's culture to drug mothers to the eyeballs, strap them down and sometimes even forge their signatures on adoption papers.

"In other cases, women heavily sedated in hospital were told they were signing release papers to get them out of hospital, but they were really signing away their children. I was taken from my mother because she was poor. It was just plain wrong."

Gympie Times

Topics:  abuse, australian government, family, forced adoption



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