Stolen Generation could clean up in court By Carly Crawford January 08, 2008 12:00pm Govt refuses to compensate Stolen Generation Aboriginal leaders threaten lawsuits Interactive special: A culture in crisis MEMBERS of the Stolen Generation could pocket more cash from a co-ordinated lawsuit than from a proposed compensation scheme, lawyers say. Indigenous leaders revealed yesterday that Stolen Generation members from around the country were considering suing after the Rudd Government's refusal to compensate them. Some experts tip the action, inspired by a landmark South Australian case, could end up costing taxpayers more than the $1 billion being sought as compensation. Slater and Gordon lawyer Peter Gordon said a co-ordinated run of successful cases could leave the Government exposed to a bigger payout than a capped fund. "My suggestion is that test cases will be actioned and, if successful, the Government may crunch the numbers and end up deciding on a settlement." However Maurice Blackburn senior partner Ben Slade said any court action would most likely fail because of its complexity. "It's not inconceivable, but they (the Government) will have had legal advice that most people would fail," he said. Stolen Generation Alliance chair Christine King said the fight would go on despite the Government's refusal to match its planned apology with a payout. "That's the Government's policy but that doesn't stop the Stolen Generation from taking other avenues of redress, because this is a human rights issue and a social issue," Ms King said. She said indigenous leaders would meet later this month to talk about litigation, counselling, and ways to retrieve lost family history. An apology would not assist a legal fight for funds, she said. "The Stolen Generation has legal grounds for compensation anyway, because of the human rights violation," she said. "Everyone else has a right, when there's been a human rights violation, to go to the courts for compensation. But it seems that when it comes to Aboriginal people, it's 'No, it shouldn't happen'." The Herald Sun this week revealed the legal threat, which followed the Government's ruling out of compensation. Stolen Generation Victoria chair Lyn Austin said the pressure would be maintained. "(The Government) has said all along there would be no compensation. But Tasmania has set up a fund, and we will continue to push, because it was recommended in the (Bringing Them Home) report." Indigenous Australians are demanding a $1 billion compensation fund for those who can prove they were forcibly removed from their homes as children. South Australian man Bruce Trevorrow, 50, won more than $500,000 damages when a Supreme Court judge accepted his forced removal had caused his later depression. There are an estimated 13,000 members of the stolen generation, 80 registered in Victoria. Indigenous Affairs minister Jenny Macklin said the Government had other priorities. "We won't be creating a compensation fund. What we will be doing is putting the funding . . . into health and education services," Ms Macklin said. Finance minister Lindsay Tanner said individuals were free to pursue legal action if they chose.