FOR Lily Arthur and the other women of the adoption support group Origins NSW, February 29, 2012, has been a long time coming.
That’s the date that a federal Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth’s contribution to forced adoption policies and practices is set to hand down its final report after a three-month extension.
Ms Arthur, who was in Newcastle on Saturday for the Newcastle Origins group’s Christmas gathering, said the inquiry had uncovered a wide range of cruel and inhuman practices by various agencies that ‘‘consciously knew they were breaking the law’’.
She said a number of individual church and welfare groups had formally apologised to the women involved during the course of the inquiry.
It had been widely reported that adoptions had all but stopped once the Whitlam government introduced the single mothers’ pension, but Ms Arthur said this was wrong, and that forced adoptions continued into the 1980s and beyond.
Ms Arthur said more than 150,000 children were separated from their mothers because of adoption practices that treated unmarried mothers as ‘‘farm animals’’.
‘‘You can’t strip people of their identity and reinvent yourself as a human being without suffering some sort of psychological bewilderment,’’ Ms Arthur said.
‘‘You can’t go tinkering around with nature and expect not to have some sort of problems in the future.’’
The Senate inquiry held sittings in Hobart last week, where some of the women involved added their voices to calls for a class action.
Newcastle Origins member Monica Jones said Christmas was a difficult time for her and other members of the group.
‘‘I suppose it’s the family thing, or the lack of it,’’ she said.
Therese Pearson, who organised Saturday’s meeting, said that personally, she wanted an apology from the government but some of the things that had been done were ‘‘beyond apologising for’’.
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