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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 October 2010) . . Page.. 5114 ..

In the context of this debate, it is also appropriate to mention the CCCares program. Established in 2005, the program has won a number of awards, is nationally recognised as a leader in the services it provides and has given young parents an education that is so important for both them and their children. The program has made a real difference to many hundreds of lives. These young parents now have many more opportunities, and not only will they benefit, but the community will also benefit from knowledge, skills and understanding they will bring to whatever endeavour they apply themselves to.

This is a good opportunity for us to say that we appreciate all the work that the CCCares staff are doing, and that we support Canberra’s young parents who are doing their best at what is, even in the easiest circumstances, the very challenging job of raising children.

Today is the first step, as I said, in bringing out into the open this important issue. It is intended to recognise and acknowledge the past practices and harms caused and provides a means of moving forward. Much more will need to be done to address this issue.

We must also be careful to ensure that we recognise that the recipients of the forcibly removed babies are not unfairly labelled or made to feel like they did the wrong thing. As is the case with all parents who care for, nurture and want the best for their children, they provided the best upbringing they possibly could for their very much loved adopted children, and it would be wrong of us to label them in any way culpable or involved in what occurred.

I would also like to take the opportunity to note that 8 to 14 November is National Adoption Awareness Week. As a community we should be openly talking about adoption and encouraging awareness and understanding. I think that it is also appropriate to promote referral services for those parents who want to find their children, and those children who want to find their parents.

As a jurisdiction that has formally recognised the basic human rights that forcibly taking away babies from their mothers offends, we have an obligation on us to address what was a clear and gross breach of human rights and of common decency and compassion. I hope that now, having put the issue into the public arena and identified what needs to happen next, we can make a positive contribution to a very sad part of our history.

For so many years, there have been very few able and willing to advocate the cause. Now that there is an increased national momentum across Australia, now that there are many able and willing advocates, as well as many mothers themselves who have told their stories, we simply cannot in good conscience hide from the issue. We in the ACT have an obligation to respond on this issue as well. I therefore commend my motion to the Assembly.

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Ageing, Minister for

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