Page 542 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 21 February 2012

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Another forum I was involved with yesterday—this is an incredibly important one—was about exploring sexual violence and institutionalisation in the ACT. It was held at the National Library, and I was one of the speakers at this forum. I would very much like to thank the Women’s Centre for Health Matters for inviting me along and also for organising the event. I also congratulate the ACT Women’s Services Network for their work on the summer of respect, which was a summer-long anti-sexual violence campaign.

There were a range of speakers at this forum, and the stories were quite horrific and heartbreaking at times. Some of them were very personal stories. I would like to thank Marcia from the Women’s Centre for Health Matters and Joanna Sassoon from the National Library of Australia, which is taking down the oral history of the forgotten Australians.

Of course the forgotten Australians were those children—around about 500,000 children—between the 1920s and the 1980s who were taken into out-of-home care. Most of them were put into refuges, institutions or other such facilities. For many of them it was quite horrific and they suffered enormous trauma and abuse. Those stories are being recorded by the National Library in their oral history.

This goes along with the exhibition that is on at the moment at the National Museum of Australia, “Inside life in children’s homes and institutions”. I encourage people to go along and see that incredible exhibition. I went there last week and was really very moved. One of the things I did not know was than many of these children were actually used as guinea pigs in drug experimentation. These stories need to get out; they need to be told.

Another other speaker at the forum yesterday was Wilma Robb, a fantastic Canberran who has been out there pushing for the rights of the forgotten Australians, a forgotten Australian herself. Wilma has also been representing the ACT on a national group. We also had Cathy, who gave a personal story from the perspective of someone who has been in prison. She was in prison for most of her sentence in New South Wales but also spent part of it at the AMC.

Toni and Marianna spoke about the mental health system. Marianna also gave a personal story. I thank all these women. They are very brave women. Sue Salthouse spoke about women with disabilities and the sorts of issues they can face when they are in institutions and the sorts of issues we should be addressing to ensure that those women do not become locked in their own homes or put into facilities where they do not have the sort of autonomy they should expect out of life.

As I have said, they were quite amazing stories and it was a wonderful afternoon. It was a great time to be able to raise awareness of this issue. I encourage people to get to the exhibition. I really felt it was important to let the Assembly know about the forgotten Australians and also about the issue of institutionalisation and sexual abuse.

Corneal transplant program

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.41): I was pleased yesterday to officiate on behalf of the Chief Minister and Minister for Health at the launch of the corneal transplant

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