The national apology was one of the more beautiful and principled speeches given by a prime minister in Australia. “We deplore the shameful practices that denied you, the mothers, your fundamental rights and responsibilities to love and care for your children. You were not legally or socially acknowledged as their mothers. And you were yourselves deprived of care and support. To you, the mothers who were betrayed by a system that gave you no choice and subjected you to manipulation, mistreatment and malpractice, we apologise.” Gillard was several times interrupted by outbursts of tearful applause. Her observations regarding what both mothers and fathers had lost were so evocative that members of the audience audibly sobbed as she spoke them: “too often they did not see their baby’s face. They couldn’t soothe his first cries. Never felt her warmth or smelt her skin. They could not give their own baby a name”.
The stories are nightmarish – from the abandonment by furious families of frightened, pregnant daughters into homes for wayward girls, to the truly excruciating accounts of the births themselves, where young girls were drugged during labour and forcibly restrained with pillows over their faces so they could not see their babies as they were born. It says something about how intentional the shattering of the maternal bond was that mother and baby were not even allowed to lay eyes upon one another.
From my article here.