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Canberra Today 15°/21° | Friday, February 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

PM apologises to thalidomide survivors

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese issues a formal apology to all Australians affected by thalidomide. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

By Paul Osborne in Canberra

ANTHONY Albanese has offered an “unreserved and overdue” apology to survivors of thalidomide, saying governments have let down those affected by the drug.

Sixty-two years to the day the morning sickness drug for pregnant women was withdrawn from sale in Australia because of causing birth defects, Mr Albanese apologised to the survivors of the pharmaceutical disaster.

“We understand an apology does not balance years of inaction and inadequate support. We know the toll of thalidomide is still felt today,” the prime minister told parliament on Wednesday.

“These parents, these mothers did nothing wrong. These parents did not fail their children. The system failed them both.”

Amid the formal apology to survivors of thalidomide and their families, the government announced a number of programs:

  • Full and unreserved apology to all thalidomide survivors, their families, loved ones and carers

* Australian Thalidomide Survivors Support Program will be reopened. The program is a lifetime support package which includes a one-off lump sum payment in recognition of pain and suffering, as well as ongoing annual payments

* Payments will be increased through indexation for all current and future applicants who qualify

* On Thursday, Health Minister Mark Butler will unveil a national memorial on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra

* The national site of recognition will promote education and awareness of the thalidomide tragedy

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Ian Meikle, editor

Australian Associated Press

Australian Associated Press

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