State Apology 5th Anniversary 28th October 2017 - A Special Afternoon


Oct 20, 2017 - 5:32pm

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Saturday 28th october ARMS along with VANISH commemorated the 5th Anniversary of the State Government apology for Forced Adoptions

Afternoon tea was served and the weather was kind to us.  Some heartfelt speeches were made and the atmosphere was freindly and enjoyable despite the memories evoked by the day

Please note: Forced includes COERCION, Coercion is defined as - force, compulsion, constraint, duress, oppression, enforcement, harassment, intimidation, threats, insistence, demand, arm twisting, pressure and influence

5th Anniversary of the Victorian Government Apology - 28th October 2017

You can read the following Speech made by Lilly Clifford (Maree Meggit) on the day.

We deplore the shameful practices that denied you, the mothers, your fundamental rights and responsibilities to love and care for your children. You were not legally or socially acknowledged as their mothers. And you were yourselves deprived of care and support. To you, the mothers who were betrayed by a system that gave you no choice and subjected you to manipulation, mistreatment and malpractice, we apologise. We say sorry to you, the mothers who were denied knowledge of your rights, which meant you could not provide informed consent.

That was Julia Gillard on 21 March 2013.  She was following in the footsteps of our own Ted Baillieu:

We express our sincere sorrow and regret for the health and welfare policies that condoned the practice of forced separations.

Ted Baillieu 25 October 2012

The important thing these two apologies had in common is that each government acknowledged that a system had been set up by society, to take our most precious creation – for most of us – our first born child. What is it about a system that makes is so persuasive? It is the combined might, authority, and absolute power that comes from the joining of the state, the church, the legal system, and through them, all those services that devolve from them – doctors, nurses, social workers, lawyers, judges, priests, teachers, schools, psychologists and ultimately our own families. When I was pregnant and in need of support to help me with beginning my family, I was up against the combined might of the State, as well as the emotional weight of the judgment and expectations of my parents. So when Julia Gillard and Ted Baillieu, on behalf of all those institutions, acknowledged that governments, society, had conspired and colluded to take my child, ensuring I had no chance of raising my babe, I can truly give meaning to the fact that the personal is political.

The terrible truth is that my experience was replicated thousands of times in many many women's lives and so, while I spoke just then in the first person, I know that sadly, I am not alone. But that is the impact of a systems approach. Girls and women, WE were systematically stripped of our right and opportunity to raise our own child. We were not given the dignity of being acknowledged as mother and we were cajoled and manipulated by weasel words like 'if you really loved your child you would give him away'.

It is nearly 40 years ago that I first took my very personal experience and converted it into political action. I spoke publicly about the loss, the grief, the betrayal that inserted itself into every part of my being when my child was taken, and over the years, thousands of women have joined me to declare the truth of their motherhood and the terrible cost of the loss of the opportunity to raise their child. Doing that provided a different knowledge to our society – and it was knowledge that challenged the status quo. It encouraged and allowed people to wake up to the realities of our experiences and to recognise that what had occurred in the name of society, was a travesty.

Today we have gathered here to remember that moment when the system acknowledged that it was wrong, and what had been done to us and our children was a great evil. Governments around Australia said they had subjected us to manipulation, mistreatment, malpractice, coercion and brutality of practices that were unethical, dishonest and in many cases illegal. They acknowledged the loss, the grief, the disempowerment, the stigmatisation and the guilt, and said that they were sorry. That was a profound and deeply moving experience and one that I will never forget. But there is something else that we aught remember today as well. That it was because of our work, because of all the mothers who raised their voices and refused to remained shamed and silenced, all those voices who spoke of the impact of adoption practices on their lives, that we have this stunning apology, this incontrovertible evidence that we did not abandon our children and that the system betrayed us and them. Our personal experiences, made public, created the political impetus for a monumental social change. That is the difference individuals can make, and I am really proud to be standing here amongst my friends and colleagues, in recognition of what, together, we have achieved. In truth, the personal is political, and I thank the government of Victoria for its acknowledgment of their role in our pain and loss.

Lilly Clifford
(Marie Meggit)

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