50m settlement in landmark Nt Stolen Generations Class Action
29 August 2022
More than seventeen hundred (1700) family members and deceased estates of the Northern Territory Stolen Generations have reached a historic $50.45 million settlement with the Commonwealth Government.
A class action in the NSW Supreme Court was started in April 2021 against the Commonwealth by Shine Lawyers, covering survivors of the NT Stolen Generations who were removed before 30 June 1978, plus certain family members and deceased estates of both those groups.
The Commonwealth then announced the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme, providing compensation and other support for the Stolen Generations survivors. But the Redress Scheme does not cover:
deceased estate of members of the Stolen Generations;
living careers or siblings of children who were removed (Kingship Group Members); or
deceased estates of Kinship Group Members.
If the class action settlement is approved by the Supreme Court, the living members of the Stolen Generation will retain access to the Redress Scheme but separate compensation will now be available to the additional groups listed above.
The NSW Supreme Court was today informed of the historic agreement, but the Court’s procedures require that the proposal be advertised to class members before a later Court hearing where the judge will decide whether to grant approval for the deal.
The lead plaintiff in the case, Stolen Generation survivor Eileen Cummings, said the settlement reflected the generational trauma caused by the Commonwealth’s decades of removing First Nations people from their families:
“Nothing will ever give us back the connections which were broken as a result of Stolen Generations, but this is an important step forward in the healing process.”
Shine’s Head of Class Actions, Jan Saddler, said the class action settlement recognised that family members suffered as well as the Stolen Generation themselves. Ms Saddler said:
“Forcibly removing children from their homes was like a sledgehammer, smashing families apart. It was important this settlement reflected just how far-reaching the damage extended”.
The class action was funded by Litigation Lending Services (LLS). LLS CEO, Stephen Conrad said:
“LLS is proud to have partnered with Shine to obtain this significant resolution for First Nations people.”
LSS Director and Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine acknowledged that monetary compensation can only offer some solace to the families affected by child removals:
“These were people who had been separated from their families, losing contact with their culture. They were deprived of the chance to raise their biological children, their siblings and extended family. Many of them suffered terrible injustice and treatment. I have heard first-hand their stories and felt their sadness. Their stories brought tears to my eyes. This day is a great day.
We could never ever compensate these people for what happened, but this settlement helps with the healing process and hopefully will ensure this never happens again. I commend the Government for what they have done today after decades of successive governments ignoring these people. This Government has embraced reconciling past injustices and their actions will make a massive difference in these people’s lives."