Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes: Statements
I have brought all of those issues to the attention of my colleagues. I am explaining the decision but I am also noting that it is not a matter that is closed forever. I, too, have received a lot of representations from members of that institution, most recently, in the context of the collaborative forum's report. Senators will be aware that I established a collaborative forum to run alongside the commission process to examine, as alluded to by Senator Higgins, what we can do now as distinct from waiting until the commission provides its investigative findings and other reports.The collaborative forum, the members of which are representative stakeholders of the various institutions, provided me with a report just before Christmas which is now being considered by the Government. Discussions are ongoing with some of my colleagues on how we can respond to its recommendations, some of which particularly regard health and well-being supports which were also referred to in the second interim report. I will go to Government as soon as possible in regard to responding as positively as possible to some of the recommendations and, at least, those which can be progressed sooner. Some of the recommendations seek quite substantial change. That is not to say that it cannot be done, but it may take longer to implement some of them. I have a desire to see how my and other Departments that are implicated in the recommendations of the collaborative forum can respond as positively as possible. That is not the case in the context of individual redress because we must await the findings of the mother and baby home commission in order to conclude whether it would be appropriate to make those kinds of decisions.
I have probably addressed most of the questions. I appreciate the deep and careful reflections of Senators on the report and the extension, and the desire of all present to find better ways for the State to allow the process of truth telling to fulfil its potential healing value for survivors, as referred to by Senator Boyhan. That may occur in the privacy of a commission but many survivors and their families want it to take place in public to a greater degree in order to make the country aware of its collective responsibility for what happened, which is a necessary ingredient of preventing it from happening again.