Australia’s Prime Minister lodges an apology to the survivors and families of the thalidomide tragedy

    Image Credit – The Telegraph

It has been more than 60 years since the drug for morning sickness caused birth defects in babies worldwide. It was initially employed as a tranquilizer or sedative though.
Anthony Albanese made a statement on Wednesday, saying, “Today, at long last, Australia will say sorry. I want to acknowledge and welcome all the Thalidomide survivors and their families here with us in the parliament.” Continued adding, “I extend that same respect to all those watching from afar here with us in spirit, you have been survivors from the day you were born.”
Moreover, he stated, “More than that, you have been advocates, organizers, champions, and warriors. Time and time again, you have summoned remarkable resolve. You have shown an extraordinary strength of character. Yet for so long, parliaments and governments have not proved equal to this or worthy of it.” Also added, “This apology takes in one of the darkest chapters in Australia’s medical history,”
Well, it is the first time that the government has accepted its role in the whole scenario. Mr. Albanese shared while addressing the crowd in the chamber, “To the survivors – we apologize for the pain thalidomide has inflicted on each and every one of you each and every day. We are sorry. We are more sorry than we can say,”
The Prime Minister also acknowledged that Australia has ‘moral responsibility’ for the Thalidomide scandal, he said, “Too often, we have let you down. Today – your presence lifts all of us up,”
Additionally, he quoted, “Without question, the heroes of those proceedings are the survivors and their families who shared their stories with such searing honesty. The people who put on the parliamentary record a hard truth too long denied.” continued by saying, “Their courage demands that at the heart of this nation, apology must be an acceptance of Australia’s moral responsibility. So today, as we express our sorrow and regret, we also acknowledge the inescapable historical facts. The fact that even after the grave dangers of this drug were known, importing Thalidomide was not prohibited,”
He also said, “Selling it was not banned. Products and samples in surgeries and shops were not comprehensively recalled or entirely destroyed. Saying ‘sorry’ does not excuse this or erase it. There are no words that can undo what has been suffered. There’s no sum of money that can square the ledger.”
However, the accurate number of victims is not noted but over 140 survivors have made their registration for a financial support program since 2020. Back in 2019, a report said that 20% of Australia’s thalidomide cases would not been that difficult to avoid if the leaders had taken the appropriate steps quickly.
Well, Trish Jackson, a 61-year-old survivor shared the apology offer “a bit of peace” to families of the victims. Further added, “[But] it should have been done years ago when parents were still alive, when mothers were still alive. Some survivors have even died and not gotten to hear this.”
However, Mr. Albanese and Peter Dutton, the leader of the opposition met the survivors and their families in the Parliament House in Canberra. Around 80 survivors attended the event with their families and friends.


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