The Healing Foundation
Image from the Healing Foundation’s latest annual report.
  • The Healing Foundation was set up after the Apology, in 2009
  • In a Budget submission, the foundation is calling for a new museum and extra funding
  • A National First Nations Memorial and Centre for Healing in Canberra

Established after the Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008, The Healing Foundation was set up after consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2009.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported that, in 2018, there were at least 17,150 Stolen Generations survivors, and 114,800 descendants of Stolen Generations survivors.

The Healing Foundation is now calling on the federal government to establish a National First Nations Memorial and Centre for Healing in Canberra.

In ‘Healing the Nation’ – The Healing Foundation Pre-Budget Submission 2021-22 – the foundation is also calling for new funding for a range of initiatives to progress the healing of Stolen Generations survivors.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said today that a National Memorial for First Nations people in the nation’s capital is long overdue.

“A National First Nations Memorial, which incorporates a Healing Centre, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, would send a strong message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – and all Australians – that the Federal Government is serious about reconciliation and righting past wrongs,” Ms Petersen said.

Fiona Petersen
Fiona Petersen, CEO, the Healing Foundation. Image – LinkedIn.

“To acknowledge the richness and uniqueness of more than 60,000 years of the culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the oldest continuing civilisation on Earth, the Memorial would need to be at least as substantial as the National War Memorial or the National Museum.

“The Healing Foundation proposes that it be a ‘living memorial’ that salutes the past, the present, and the shared future of all Australians as one.

“It would be a national and international attraction that would incorporate the elements of a museum, a gallery, a centre of education and truth-telling, and a hub for healing and reconciliation.

“It would celebrate and honour the true history, languages, culture, art, music, customs, and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“It would be a focus and a catalyst for healing the nation.”

Ms Petersen said that The Healing Foundation was established in 2009 as a response to the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report, a Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.

“Healing done well takes time, effort, and investment.

“The Healing Foundation is uniquely positioned to show all Australians how healing happens – with a focus on intergenerational healing, rather than intergenerational trauma.

“Our Stolen Generations survivors tell us what will help their healing and the healing of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

“A National First Nations Memorial and Healing Centre will help healing.”

As Professor Mark Kenny from ANU said in the 2020 Henry Parkes Oration:

“Australia is a lesser nation, a weaker society, for the denial of proper recognition and meaningful reconciliation with this nation’s First Peoples – the oldest continuing civilisation on Earth.”

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