Treatment of children 'horrifying'
A GENERATION of white Australian children from the 1930s, '40s and '50s was "stolen" and abused by religious and state institutions, the Senate has heard.
A Senate report is expected to reveal a national disgrace of sexual, physical and emotional abuse of white children by many of the institutions Australians had come to trust, including the Salvation Army, Catholic and Anglican churches, Christian Brothers and state welfare agencies.
The report, due to be released on August 30, has sparked speculation of an overhaul of how child abuse is dealt with in Australia.
It is expected to call for a victims' compensation fund, better access to records to allow people to find their families, and funding for services to state wards and homes for children.
Other possible reforms include an ombudsman for children and a national system of child protection.
The Salvation Army has apologised for its abuse of children, but other churches are still embroiled in allegations dating back decades.
Jan McLucas, the Queensland Labor senator who chairs the committee, said submissions had told of "vicious and horrific" treatment of children.
Leonie Sheedy, a former ward of the state and now secretary of the victims' group, Care Leavers of Australia Network, said: "We rightfully acknowledge that Aborigines were stolen from their families. However, there were tens of thousands of Australians who had the same experience".
The Senate committee on community affairs investigated "unsafe, improper or unlawful care or treatment of children".
The report found many children were forcibly removed from their mothers, many of whose husbands had died or left them.
Senator McLucas said many victims thought of themselves as a "stolen generation" of white people.