Note: transcript appears to have been amended by author since first publication
The emotions in the room were palpable. Gillard used the word illegal, which we were hoping for. Mum desperately needed to hear that word...
When Abbott started speaking, immediately the tone of the room and the elated atmosphere disintegrated rapidly. Abbott obviously had not consulted with anyone. He didn’t understand the findings of the Senate inquiry and didn’t understand that language is so important when we’re talking about forced adoption. He spoke about "relinquishment" not "forced adoption". We were there for a national apology on forced adoption, not relinquishment. My mother did not relinquish me, I was taken.
He also used the term "birth mothers". For the majority, the mothers and fathers consider themselves parents, period. That’s when the heckling occurred, when he used the term birth parents. For my mother, it echoed the judgemental and insensitive practices of the past.
Everything that Gillard achieved in terms of validating all the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters was completely eroded by Abbott’s speech. One of the recommendations was to bring broader public awareness around the coercive and illegal practices that occurred. If our Opposition Leader couldn’t even understand what happened and use the appropriate words, then what hope do we have of the broader community understanding?