Stolen generations – Annette Peardon’s Speech – <em>a parliamentary first </em>

No. 43 Stolen generations – Annette Peardon’s Speech – a parliamentary first

In August 1997, respected Tasmanian Aboriginal community member, Annette Peardon, made history by becoming the first member of the public in more than 100 years – and the first Aboriginal person – to address the Tasmanian House of Assembly. Her moving and powerful speech evoked scenes of emotion and a standing ovation from the Parliament. more...

Annette was born on Flinders Island in 1949. By the age of nine, she had been taken from her mother and placed in foster homes and institutions, where she was punished for crying and missing her mother. Annette’s story is typical of the Stolen Generations – Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their homes simply on the basis of race.

The first removals of Aboriginal children began with the invasion of Van Diemen’s Land, when the invaders would steal Aboriginal children and use them as slave labour. From the 1820s to the 1850s, Aboriginal children were sent to the Orphan School in New Town – where many died.

Between the 1930s and 1970s, ‘neglect’ and ‘waywardness’ were some of the official reasons for the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, community and culture. However, the 1997 National Inquiry – the Bringing Them Home report – found that these were often groundless excuses to suit government assimilation policies. It was following this report that Annette addressed the House of Assembly, and the Tasmanian Parliament formally apologised to the Stolen Generations.

In 2006 the Tasmanian Parliament led the way by becoming the first State or Territory to back their apology with action, unanimously passing laws to provide monetary compensation for the Stolen Generations.

“We cannot undo the wrongs of the past but we can do what is right by accepting and recognising the hurt caused through the forcible separation of Aboriginal children from their families in the past.”
– Paul Lennon (then Premier of Tasmania), 2006

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  • Object maker: Annette Peardon
  • Object date: 1997
  • Object size: 21 x 30 cm
  • Object location: Hobart
  • Object display location: Henry Hunter Galleries level 1: Tasmania. Life and Environment.
  • Object source: Parliament of Tasmania
  • Accession number: