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Australian prime minister Julia Gillard delivered a historic national apology in parliament on Thursday to the thousands of unwed mothers who were forced by government policies to give up their babies for adoption over several decades.

"Today this parliament, on behalf of the Australian people, takes responsibility and apologises for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies, which created a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering," Gillard said in Parliament.

"We acknowledge the profound effects of these policies and practices on fathers and we recognise the hurt these actions caused to brothers and sisters, grandparents, partners and extended family members.

"We deplore the shameful practices that denied you, the mothers, your fundamental rights and responsibilities to love and care for your children," reports The Guardian

The audience of more than 800 people responded with a standing ovation. Gillard said A$5m would be spent on support services for affected families and to help biological families reunite. "

Unwed mothers were pressured, deceived and threatened into giving up their babies from the second world war until the early 1970s so they could be adopted by married couples, which was perceived to be in the children's best interests, 

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Julia Gillard apologises for policy of forced adoption for unwed mothers
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