My Great, Great Uncle was stolen, can I have $50,000 for the emotional trauma that this caused me.
ABORIGINAL leaders have rallied behind a push for massive compensation for the Stolen Generations, but a former indigenous adviser to the Howard government has warned that the Rudd Government must not be dragged back into issues of "toxic symbolism".
While the Federal Government has attempted to sidestep the issue of compensation for the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal academics Boni Robertson and Gracelyn Smallwood yesterday upped the ante, saying it should be much higher than the $1 billion suggested by lawyer Michael Mansell.
Professor Robertson said $1billion was "really quite minimal" and "just a starting point", while Ms Smallwood said it would be "very generous to the Government" and should be double or triple that amount. 'Apology not enough' "It's very simple," Ms Smallwood told The Australian.
"You can't just apologise, you've got to mean it and the only way to prove that is through compensation. You can't reconcile without it."
As the Rudd Government moves towards a national apology, Wesley Aird, a member of the Howard government's hand-picked National Indigenous Council, warned Labor against being dragged back into "toxic symbolism", and said some Aboriginal leaders now seeking to re-engage with government had presided over "an era of hopelesseness".
"I don't believe anyone is going to have a better life just because the Government says sorry," Mr Aird said. Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin met members of the NIC last week.
She said yesterday its role was "still being considered". At the meeting, Sue Gordon, who has chaired both the council and the Northern Territory intervention taskforce, urged the Government to make a broad apology to all of those affected by the removal of Aboriginal children - not just to the children who were removed.
"If there's going to be an apology, I didn't want sorry to me, I wanted it to my mother and my brother who saw me taken away and looked for me," Ms Gordon said.
"It's all those people who need to be part of it." She urged the Government to consult widely on the wording of the apology, but said it was important not to get "hung up onwords".
"Cruel" and "evil" Jackie Huggins, the former co-chair of Reconciliation Australia, said the word "sorry" was essential and the words "cruel" and "evil" - as used in a Canadian apology to indigenous children taken from their families - were appropriate.
Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser said an apology needed to recognise that the policy of child removal based on race was "disastrously wrong and terrible".
He said compensation needed to be discussed, but thought the priority should be in redressing the "gross and irresponsible massive underspending on health, housing and education".
Mr Fraser also took aim at dissident historian Keith Windschuttle, who maintains the Stolen Generations are a "fiction".
The former Liberal leader said that Territory ordinances and documents dating back to 1911 gave "total confirmation that it was a designed and deliberate act of policy".