Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Australia on Thursday announced a plan to pay more than $280 million in reparations to members of its Indigenous population who were forcibly removed from their parents.
The program will provide a one-off payment of $55,387 "in recognition of the harm caused by forced removal" and an additional $5,169 to facilitate their healing.
Survivors will also be offered the opportunity to confidentially tell the story of the impact of their removal to a senior official within the government and receive a face-to-face or written apology.
"This is a long called-for step, recognizing the bond between healing, dignity and the health and well-being of members of the Stolen Generations, their families and their communities," Morrison said before parliament on Thursday. "To say formally, not just that we're deeply sorry for what happened, but that we will take responsibility for it."
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who were under the age of 18 when removed from their family in one of the three territories will be eligible for the payments, the government said.
Families of a Stolen Generations member who dies between Aug. 5, 2021, and March 1, 2022, will also be able to submit an application on their behalf. The government will receive applications through Feb. 28, 2026.
More than 100,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families between the early 1900s and 1970 and the nation's 700,000 Indigenous people continue to struggle socially and economically, with their life expectancy eight years shorter than non-Indigenous people.
Indigenous groups welcomed the reparations but called for further action from the government.
"It's something, but it's not everything. It won't provide that end state of a healed nation, but there is hope," Fiona Cornfort, CEO of the Healing Foundation, which represents some members of the Stolen Generations, told NBC News.
In the United States, the Department of the Interior in June announced plans to review the history of federal boarding schools that similarly removed Indigenous children from their families and forced cultural assimilation upon them.
The remains of hundreds of children buried at similar boarding schools in Canada were also uncovered in the last few months.