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NSW nurses and midwives apologise for forced adoptions

By Karen Keast | Last Updated: 19-11-2013

The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) issues an apology over forced adoptions

The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) has issued an apology to the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters subjected to forced adoption between the 1950s and 1970s.

The apology came after state parliament, in front of a packed gallery, recently passed an historic motion of apology for the traumatising policy.

Parliament heard an estimated 150,000 babies were taken from their mothers during the period as part of the policy, which was then sanctioned by governments, hospitals, churches and charities.

Young mothers were often drugged, sedated and given lactation suppressants to dry up their milk, some were tied to beds while their babies were induced, while other mothers were lied to and told their babies had died.

Premier Barry O’Farrell delivered the formal apology.

“We are sorry for the forced adoptions practices that severed the fundamental, life-giving bonds between a mother and her child,” he told parliament.

“We say sorry for treating you cruelly and insensitively when what you most needed and deserved was care and support.”

The NSWNMA later issued a statement “unreservedly apologising” for the part nurses and midwives played in the “unacceptable policy” through their employment.

“Through such employment, nurses and midwives were intimately involved with the mothers and their newborn sons and daughters, especially at the time of the birth and removal,” the statement read.

“The NSWNMA also apologises for any nurse/midwife behaviour that increased the trauma experienced by any mother as a result of this unacceptable policy.

“The NSWNMA is also very sorry that, while it was not itself involved in such practices and did not actively support such practices, it did not look more closely at the policy at the time and take a vigorous stand against it.”

The union called on other governments, organisations and professions involved in the policy to also issue an apology and demanded the state government deliver widespread assistance to help the mothers, fathers and children subjected to forced adoption.

Read the entire statement here.

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