Claire O'Connor : That's a very good question, because a lot of the trial was actually used up, a lot of the trial days were used up in hearing evidence from experts in relation to separation of children from parents, in relation to attachment disorders, in relation to whether the presentment of Bruce as a now year-old man -- well he was 48 when we had the trial, 48, 49 -- and whether you could attribute the pain and suffering and dysfunction that he has now to the act of removal, the act of return, and the way that he was fostered and the way he was cared for during that fostering environment -- not, I might add, by the family who fostered him, but in terms of the various problems that started to manifest themselves as a very young child when he was in foster care -- he was slow to speak and had a speech problem, he had a limp which seemed to have a psychosomatic cause, he had behavioural learning problems.
Now the evidence was that the disorders that he now presents with, and he said himself in his evidence, that he finds it difficult, if not impossible, to love, and to care about people. He certainly seemed to find it difficult to love and care about himself; he'd had a history of alcohol abuse, of inability to hold down a job, of inability to form attachments.
And so evidence that we heard was that if you do that to children, that you can cause harm to them, and not only that, but at the time this occurred, , that was knowledge within psychiatric and psychological communities. Damien Carrick : Barrister Claire O'Connor, who says by the s there were numerous studies which made it clear that children we damaged by removal from their families. In the World Health Organisation had published a major study on maternal attachment and deprivation theory, which had highlighted the effect of maternal care on the mental health of children.
Synonyms and antonyms of Jugendwerkhof in the German dictionary of synonyms
Bruce Trevorrow did go on to marry and have four children, but he says he was unable to fully enjoy being a husband and a dad. Bruce Trevorrow : I couldn't, because I didn't know how parents go, and I didn't really Damien Carrick : But did you -- were you affectionate towards your children? Did you tell them that you loved them, did you play with them? Bruce Trevorrow : No, I couldn't, because I didn't know how to do it.
Damien Carrick : And what about your wife? Were you able to have a good relationship with her? Bruce Trevorrow : Off and on, yes. But it sort of caused a lot of problems, too. Damien Carrick : I mean, I understand that you've had ongoing problems with alcohol and that also affected your marriage and perhaps your role as a parent as well. Bruce Trevorrow : Yes.
Because like I said, alcohol was part of my life, and it caused a lot of problems between my wife and me, and with the law. Damien Carrick : And I understand there had been episodes of violence, too, even within the family?
Bruce Trevorrow : Yes, there was, yes. And so I'd go into depression and what they call a psychotic disorder, where I get very violent sometimes. Damien Carrick : Towards your family? Bruce Trevorrow : Family, yes. Damien Carrick : But nevertheless, you're still with Veronica and you have close relationships with your children now? Bruce Trevorrow : Yes, apparently sort of you know.. Damien Carrick : Tell me, have you ever been able to reconnect properly with your biological brothers and sisters back over in South Australia?
Bruce Trevorrow : Not as close as people would like. It should be a lot more closer with family. But I think over the last couple of days, we have become a stronger family because a lot of the questions were answered during the trial, and I just believe that my parents did everything in their power to try and get hold of me and get me back. But the government of the day just wouldn't let her take me. And I think because the family members had to give evidence through the court, it's made us stronger, a closer family together. Damien Carrick : I understand that what the court was able to do when looking at your situation, and what in your life could be attributed to being separated from your family, they looked at your brothers and your sisters, and I think in particular you have two brothers who've done very well for themselves.
Damien Carrick : And they were able to say, 'Look, these two boys stayed with their parents, lived in poverty and faced adversity, but they went on to have very fulfilling lives', and you didn't. Bruce Trevorrow : No, I didn't, no, and it was unfortunate; I would have started learning this, you know, and I'm aged You know, learn how to fit in with my family, my culture.
Translation of «Jugendwerkhof» into 25 languages
Damien Carrick : And what did it mean for you to give evidence in the court and to hear the court proceedings take place? Bruce Trevorrow : Well fairly painful for me, to listen to that. But it's sort of helped, me through the outcome of this court, has given me some significant recognition, that something did happen to me.
Damien Carrick : Just before I let you go, I understand that you've just been through a healing process at Camp Coorong, can you tell me about that? Bruce Trevorrow : Yes, we have smoking and then traditional dances, and so I felt real proud. I was sort of still really not connected to my culture, but I feel that that smoking ceremony sort of helped me and I know that I should be proud because I have got a culture, yes. Damien Carrick : As Bruce pointed out, when it came to calculating what aspects of his difficult life could be attributed to his fractured childhood, the court was able to compare his experience with those of his two brothers who were not removed.
His older brothers, Tom and George are both prominent, highly-regarded members of the Ngarrindjeri community, and they're also successful businessmen. Barrister Claire O'Connor says Bruce was successful in his court case because he was able to establish the authorities did not follow their own clear procedures and their own clear guidelines for removing children from their families.
Claire O'Connor : To take a child from a family is a large step. It's a huge step, and we know that from the cases that involve the protection of children in courts at the moment, to actually intervene to say the quality of parenting care you're providing for your child is inadequate. And the state must now care for a child is a step that should follow a natural justice and legislative process, and those processes were in place at the time, and for some Aboriginal children, those processes were ignored, on purpose.
Damien Carrick : Now what was the legal basis of the claim? What were you arguing in terms of breaches of the law and types of damages that you were after? Claire O'Connor : We were arguing that first of all, there had been an illegal conduct in the removal of Bruce from his family. Secondly, we were arguing that there'd been misfeasance in public office in relation to that removal, that the state knew what they were doing was illegal, and continued.
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We argued that there'd been a breach of the duty of care owed to Bruce in removing him, a breach of their duty of care in placing him with a foster family and a breach of their duty of care in returning him to his birth mother in the arbitrary way that that was done. Damien Carrick : He endured pain and suffering, loss of cultural identity; he suffered depression, he'd become an alcoholic and he had an erratic work history. Were these kinds of damages that you say ensued from the breaches that you're talking about by the authorities?
Claire O'Connor : Yes. Not only that, His Honour also awarded exemplary damages because of the conscious wrongdoing which was the evidence that we heard -- because there were two pieces of evidence that the court took into account and those two pieces of evidence related to opinions that the government had, that stated that there was a process for removing children, and to remove them without following that process was against the law -- and those opinions predated the removal of Bruce.
So it's because of those opinions that the exemplary damages award has been added to the damages that had been given to Bruce in these circumstances. Damien Carrick : So what does all this mean for other members of the Stolen Generation, or indeed for any child removed from his or her family? Will it open the floodgates to other claims? This decision does not mean that all children taken from their families are entitled to compensation. What this decision makes clear is that if a child is taken, the removal must have been done in accordance with the laws and procedures which were in place at the time.
So it remains to be seen how many other Indigenous Australians might be able to establish similar breaches by the authorities. But having said this, Claire O'Connor points out legal claims can take many other forms. Claire O'Connor : You don't necessarily have to have an illegal removal to then have a claim in negligence for other actions of the state.
They may have a claim. This authority doesn't just say that you have to prove illegal removal. What it does say, however, is that there was a duty owed to children, and that duty had to have been exercised with care; there was a degree of knowledge available to the community at large and to those dealing with children at the time, that informed them that removing a child could cause harm; the way that you treated a child and placed the child back with the family if that's what you did, could also cause harm, and you need to do things to ensure that harm isn't caused.
If you don't do those things, then you could be liable for the negligent actions that you were then performing. Damien Carrick : What does this historic decision -- because it is the first stolen generation's case to succeed in the courts -- what does this mean for the wider legal and political solutions, potential solutions to this issue?
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Meaning of "Jugendwerkhof" in the German dictionary
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