The Healing Foundation will be looking for strong evidence of the Government’s commitment to greater healing efforts for First Nations peoples, especially for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants, in Tuesday’s Federal Budget announcements.
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the Government had engaged strongly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and during special events like the Anniversary of the Apology and would like to see this goodwill and support continue into the long term with strong policies and partnerships and major reforms.
In its ‘Healing the Nation’ Pre-Budget Submission 2021-22, The Healing Foundation detailed the need for new funding for a range of initiatives to progress healing for Stolen Generations survivors – including reparations, tailored trauma-aware and healing-informed support for ageing and ailing Stolen Generations survivors, and better access to historical records for survivors; and a National Healing Strategy to address the impacts of intergenerational trauma.
The Healing Foundation also made the case for the establishment of a National First Nations Memorial and Centre for Healing in Canberra and a doubling of the core Commonwealth Grant that funds the organisation’s work to support Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants.
Ms Cornforth said that The Healing Foundation was established in 2009 as a belated response to the 1997 Bringing Them Home report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families.
“The Healing Foundation started its life in 2009 with a core Commonwealth grant of $6.6 million per year,” Ms Cornforth said.
“In 2021, more than 11 years later, our core grant is still $6.6 million per year.
“But the need and the demand for trauma-aware and healing-informed expertise from The Healing Foundation has grown significantly over that time – and will continue to grow.
“Significant new funding is required to cover existing programs and services – and to meet the demand for expanding these services and establishing new ones as the number of people who identify as Stolen Generations survivors rises dramatically.
“Healing done well takes time, effort, and investment.
“The Healing Foundation is uniquely positioned to show all Australians how healing happens – with a focus on intergenerational healing, rather than intergenerational trauma.
“After more than a decade of working alongside Stolen Generations survivors we have come to understand the opportunity for them to lead intergenerational healing in Australia.
“A National First Nations Memorial, which incorporates a Healing Centre, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, could hold their stories and healing know-how. It would also send a strong message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – and all Australians – that the Federal Government is serious about righting past wrongs.
“The Healing Foundation proposes that it be a ‘living memorial’ that salutes the past, and informs all who visit about the present, and the shared future of all Australians, fast-tracking healing efforts.
“It would be a national and international learning space that would incorporate the elements of a museum, a gallery, a centre of education and truth telling, and a hub for healing expertise.
“It would be a focus and a catalyst for healing the nation.”
Ms Cornforth said The Healing Foundation strongly supports the implementation of the recommendations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and welcomes any policies that will help put an end to racism in any form, in any setting in Australia, and would applaud any Budget announcements that contribute to achieving these objectives.
“The Healing Foundation looks forward to a Federal Budget that promotes and supports genuine healing efforts, truly acknowledging the significant trauma burden that First Nations peoples and ageing Stolen Generations survivors had no say in carrying,” Ms Cornforth said.
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth will be addressing the National Press Club of Australia on 2 June. Details are available here: https://www.npc.org.au/speaker/2021/836-fiona-cornforth
The Healing Foundation Pre-Budget Submission 2021-22 is available here: https://healingfoundation.org.au/app/uploads/2021/02/The-Healing-Foundation-Pre-Budget-Submission-2021-22.pdf
To raise awareness about the Stolen Generations, The Healing Foundation is sharing this animation about the impacts of intergenerational trauma: youtube.com/watch?v=vlqx8EYvRbQ&t
The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to address trauma caused by the widespread and deliberate disruption of populations, cultures, and languages over 230 years. This includes specific actions like the forced removal of children from their families.