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Origins Benchmark for 'Forced Adoption' Apologies

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National Forced Adoption Apology...
Origins has set a benchmark!

Origins SPSA Inc. is a charitable organization supporting indigenous and non-indigenous Australians separated by adoption. Therefore, it has a mandate to its members to insure that both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians are included in the terms of reference of any apology for the impact of former forced adoption policies and practices.

Representing the firsthand witnesses of mass removals of mostly illegitimate infants at birth, Origins has set a benchmark from which it has not departed in having rejected all apologies offered for forced adoption to date. That benchmark was implicitly validated in chapter nine of the Community Affairs References Committee's (CARC) Final Report 'Commonwealth Contribution to former forced adoption policies and practices'.

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Chapter nine treats of apologies to the survivors of forced adoption, addressing what they should in future consist in, including the recommendation:

 

that apologies by the Commonwealth or by other governments and institutions should satisfy the five criteria for formal apologies set out by the Canadian Law Commission and previously noted by the Senate Community Affairs Committee. (9.58)

In summary, The Five Criteria of the Canadian Law Commission are:

 

1. Acknowledgment of the wrong done or naming the offence.

2. Accepting responsibility for the wrong that was done.

3. The expression of sincere regret and profound remorse.

4. The assurance or promise that the wrong done will not recur.

5. Reparation through concrete measures.

The CARC acknowledges a single dispute over the ‘effectiveness of an apology, unless it (is) in the context of other actions’ (9:12), quoting Lily Arthur, co-ordinator of Origins, in its chapter on apologies:

An apology without exposure, redress or accountability for criminal behaviour is not only an insult to an established legal system but also opens the opportunity for other types of criminal activity to occur on a grand scale, such as past adoption practices. Crimes can be perpetrated on victims with the knowledge that, if you can hide your crimes long enough, then you can get away with it. (9:12)

Origins views on what apologies should consist in, as contained in the latter quotation, are in keeping with ‘The Five Criteria’ of the Canadian Law Commission:

1. Origins insistence on the ‘exposure’ of forced adoption as an unlawful action opposed to the common law is in agreement with the first criteria: ‘acknowledgment of the wrong done or naming the offence’;

2. Origins insistence on ‘accountability’ agrees with the second criteria: ‘Accepting responsibility for the wrong that was done’;

3. Regarding the third criteria, which is the ‘expression of sincere regret and profound remorse’, Origins has not rejected the idea of an apology per se but has always maintained the insincerity and inadequacy of past apologies in their lacking of the exposure and accountability necessary to provide assurance that the past wrong will not reoccur. Origins has always maintained the need for exposure and accountability as pre-requisites for opening up the way for tangible evidence of regret for forced adoption via concrete measures as due acts of good will and justice;

4. Origins concern that ‘other types of criminal activity (could) occur on a grand scale, such as past adoption practices’, that is, equates with the fourth criteria that the apology gives ‘The assurance or promise that the wrong done will not recur’;

 

5. Origins belief in and work towards ‘redress’ as a tangible sign of sincere regret for forced adoption, that is, agrees with the fifth criteria: ‘Reparation through concrete measures. Notably, the CARC’s Final Report made it clear that ‘acknowledging hurt and distress is not the same thing as stating what caused it, and then taking responsibility for that action’ (9:34).

Coming soon:

Criticism of past apologies for forced adoption

 


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