Thalidomide Group Australia

 Here now ... Looking for Justice 





Please note that the following is a brief timeline summarizing some of the efforts to communicate with Canberra in the past 5 years.

Hundreds of letters, emails, and phone calls have been made, plus meetings attended ... and we are still waiting to be heard.

2014/Dec:           Letters sent in email and hard-copy to relevant Ministers of Parliament requesting a meeting to discuss

                            the needs of the Australian Thalidomide survivors.   



2015/Jan:           Phone calls with both the Department of Social Services and the Department of Health led to each

                            pointing the finger of responsibility to the other … saying Thalidomide issues fall under the umbrella of

                            someone else.      



2015/Jan:           Contacts and meetings were made with local members and Ministers to enlighten them to our needs.



2015/Feb:           Letters of appreciation forwarded to any member responding to our initial contacts.  



2015/March:      Letter received from Prime Minister Abbott’s office stating he was too busy to  meet with our


                            The letter suggested we contact Minister Sussan Ley, Health Minister.



2015/May:         Contacts began with the Media requesting meetings to discuss our plight. 



2015/July:         Discussions surrounding a rally in Canberra of Thalidomide survivors.



2015/Dec:         Meeting with Minister Sussan Ley in her Sydney office.  

                           Minister Ley afforded us 20 minutes in which she listened, empathised, promised to “go in to bat for us”,

                           and asked her attending assistant to look at how NDIS will support our needs.   



2016/Jan:        Contact with Minister Ley asking for direction and reminding her of her promise.



2016/Feb 24:   Phone call from (E) in Minister Leys office stating that Minister Ley was sincerely concerned and wanted

                          to follow us through to a resolution.   

                          (E) was a senior staff member that had been directed by Minister Ley to contact us.   

                          (E) asked how was it that we hoped the government would offer support?

                          That same afternoon, a proposal was presented to Minister Ley.


2016/March:     (E)  advises [by phone] that the apology asked for on our proposal would not be forthcoming as the

                           government felt no responsibility towards the Thalidomide disaster in Australia. 

2016/April 26:   Phone call from new contact at Minister Leys office.  

                           (L) was a senior advisor to Ley.  

                           (L) advised Minister Ley  was preparing a report to be then presented to the Department of Finance.   



 2016/May:     (L) phones to report that [due to the complexity of Thalidomide in Australia] Minister Ley was

                         commissioning an investigation from legal representation to look at the history of Thalidomide in our

                         country and its relationship to/with the government.     



2016/May 17:   (L) phones and asks [to help their research] if there are any supporting articles and/or documentation

                          that outlines the projected health and aging concerns of a Thalidomide survivor? 

                          An extensive research was undertaken, and a list of references was sent to (L) within the week.






2016/July:     Invitations sent to Minister Ley, (E), and (L) to attend the 2016 TAI Bi-Annual Conference in Adelaide.    



2016/Aug:    After requesting feedback from Leys office re:update of our proposal, we were advised  Ley had her

                      investigative report on her desk (complete with recommendations) but had not yet read it.   

                      We were advised to allow 4 weeks for the Minister to familiarise herself with the investigation. 



2016/Sept:   After five weeks we made enquiries to Leys office, and were informed the Minister still hadn’t gotten around

                      to the paperwork.



2016/Nov 28:   Met with (E) at her Canberra office.  

                          She was apologetic to be unable to shed further light on our situation with the Minister.



2017/Jan 12:   Sussan Ley resigns her position as Minister of Health, Aged Care, and Sport.



2017/Jan 17:   Letters sent in email and hard-copy to relevant Ministers and members of Parliament requesting a

                        meeting to discuss the needs of the Australian Thalidomide survivors. 

                        Any responses from Ministers and members (Liberal, Shadow, and Independent), echoed the same

                        message that unfortunately they are too busy to meet with us!



2017/Feb 7:   A response from the new Minister of Health (Greg Hunt) states our request to meet has been forwarded to

                       the Minister’s advisor for follow-up, and also to the Minister’s diary manager.

2017/Mar 7:   Still waiting to hear from Minister Hunt's staff.


2017/April 21:    Appointment to see Shadow Minister of Health, Catherine King, (in her Ballarat office) to discuss our


                            Shadow Minister King promised to “look into” and “ask around” … and get back to us within a few weeks.


2017/June 20:    Meeting in Canberra with Federal Minister of Health, Greg Hunt MP (at the Ministers Invitation) to

                             discuss the proposal presented by Thalidomide Group Australia.

                             A meeting was also undertaken with a representative of the Hon Bill Shorten MP.   In ALL the time we

                             have requested a meeting with Hon Bill Shorten, we have been informed he is too busy to meet.



2017/Sept 27:    Letter received from Health Minister Hunt to Thalidomide Group Australia outlining the governments

                            intent of support.    This letter informs us of the Ministers;

                                        1.  intention to write to the Managing Director of Diageo Australia requesting urgent

                                            consideration for further support, and

                                        2.  offers a “formal and lasting recognition of what occurred in the tragic case of

                                            Thalidomide” [which we understand to be a memorial plaque as this was discussed in our

                                            meeting with the Minister].


2017/Oct 6:    A response letter was sent to Health Minister Hunt from Thalidomide Group Australia 

                        expressing our disbelief and disappointment in the Ministers offering.  

                        Our letter was also “cc’d” to other relevant Ministers, and Parliamentary contacts.

2017/Nov 30:     Mailout to ALL Federal members and ALL members in the Senate to notify them of our communications

                            with Minister Hunt, update them of our "fight", and ask for their support.

                            Total of 222 letters were posted.

2017/Dec 14:   Contact made from Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King (8 months after meeting with her at her

                          Ballarat Office).     

                          King’s office stated the shadow Minister was intending to contact Minister Hunt to present a bipartisan


                          (as of 04.05.2018, we are still waiting to hear back from King’s office and they have ignored our contacts)


2018/Jan 3:    Reply email from Minister Hunt saying he was “keen to meet”.  

                         Despite many attempts to secure an appointment since, the Minister has ignored our calls.

2018/Jan 17:   Meeting with Senator Richard Di Natale’s office

                         (Leader of the Australia Greens and Senator for Victoria).   

                         Assurances were given by the Senator's office that the Senator would raise our issues with Minister Hunt, 

                         that he would also raise our issues in the Senate Estimates, and also source specific documentation vital

                         to our cause.

                         (as of 04.05.2018, we are still waiting to hear back from the Senators office and they have ignored our



 2018/Feb 8:     Senator Jordan Steele-John’s office makes contact with us, (Senator for Western Australia).

                          Assurances that the Senator was extremely interested in our plight and was keen to follow-through with



 2018/Mar 7:    Meeting with [2] representatives from Minister Greg Hunt’s office to discuss a permanent memorial in

                          recognition of Thalidomide in Australia.

                          NOTE: This was a meeting to establish what the Minister was offering, NOT an acceptance of his offer.


 2018/April 12:   Interview with ABC News. 


 2018/May 3:  Meeting with Senator Chris Ketter (Senator for Queensland) to discuss the plight of the Australian

                        Thalidomide victim, and any possible options of support he could afford.

2018/June 24:   ABC News screening of report on Thalidomide Group Australia's "Looking for Justice"

2018/June 26:   In Canberra ... meeting with Senator Jordan Steele-John (Australian Greens).

2018/June 27:   In Canberra ... meeting with Shadow Health Minister, Hon Catherine King MP.

                            Shadow Minister King offered a Senate Inquiry, which TGA accepted.

2018/June 28:   In Canberra ... meeting with Federal Health Minister, Hon Greg Hunt MP.

2018/June 28:  In Canberra ... meeting with Senior Health Advisor to Prime Minister.

2018/July 18:   Channel TEN broadcast on The Project reporting of Thalidomide Group Australia's fight for Justice.

2018/Aug 20:   MEDIA RELEASE - Labour moves for Senate Inquiry into support for Thalidomide survivors.

2018/Nov 02:    Senate Inquiry Hearing conducted in Melbourne (first of two Hearings).

2019/Jan 31:    Senate Inquiry Hearing conducted in Sydney (second of two Hearings).

2019/Feb 14:     Community Affairs Reference Committee release an Interim Report on Support for Australia's

                           Thalidomide survivors.

2019/Feb 15:    MEDIA RELEASE - Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee releases an interim report for

                          Australian Thalidomide survivors. 

2019/Mar 11:    ABC Australian Story airs program "A Bitter Pill" ... with a focus on our fight for justice.

2019/Mar 22:     Senate Community Affairs References Committee releases its Final Report into Support for Australian

                            thalidomide survivors.  

                            The recommendations included in this report are favourable to both recognised and 'yet-to-be'

                            recognised survivors.

2019/Mar 22     Meeting with Opposition Leader, Mr Bill Shorten.  

                            Mr Shorten promises to deliver a national apology and financial package to Thalidomide survivors

                            (should he be elected at the Federal elections in May).

2019/Mar 22:     Phone call from Health Minister Greg Hunt to Lisa McManus (TGA)

                            No discussions surrounding a financial support package for survivor's ... only discussions around a

                            "reflections" garden in Canberra.

                            The Minister said he would include an "apology" at the unveiling of the garden.

2019/May 13:      Continued discussions with the Department of Health (Acting Dept Secretary) regarding the drafting of

                             incoming government briefings in preparation for the Federal elections on May 18th.

2019/May 18:     Australian Federal ELECTION:  LNP is re-elected to government.

2019/Sept 16:    Meeting with [newly appointed] Shadow Minister of Health, Chris Bowen (in Canberra)

2019/Sept 16:    Meeting with Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt (in Canberra).   

                            The Minister informs Thalidomide Group Australia that he would deliver 'his response' to the Senate

                            Inquiry recommendations, in early 2020.

2019/Sept 17:   Visit to the National Arboretum in Canberra to consider the "Garden of Reflection" on offer from the

                           Federal Health Department as a memorial of Thalidomide in Australia.   

2019/Sept 18:    Meeting [in Canberra] with Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John.

2019/Sept 24:   A letter from the Department of Health states "[Minister Hunt's] response is expected to be finalised

                           by mid-next year ...

                           This would make a 16 month gap between the Senate Inquiry recommendations being handed down ...

                           and a formal response by the government.

2019/Sept 25:     A letter from Thalidomide Group Australia is sent to the Health Department highlighting the  concerns

                             surrounding such a lengthy timeframe of response to the Senate Inquiry recommendations.

                             This letter also discussed the inappropriateness of the "Garden of Reflection" at the National Arboretum

                             as a memorial of Thalidomide in Australia.     

2019/Oct 1:      Opposition spokesmen Chris Bowen and Bill Shorten write a letter to Minister Hunt and Disabilities

                         Minister Stuart Robert, to act urgently.  

                         Their letter includes "You will have our full bipartisan support if you do - and you should expect our

                         ongoing scrutiny if you do not".

2019/Oct 1:     Article by Latika Bourke (SMH, The Age, & Brisbane Times) highlighting the inaction of the Australian

                         Government to support the Thalidomide survivors in Australia.

2019/Oct 2:      Radio Interview with ABC John Faine highlighting the inaction of the Australian Government to support

                           the Thalidomide survivors in Australia.

2019/Oct 2:     Radio Interview with Leon Delaney 2CC  (Canberra) highlighting the inaction of the Australian Government

                         to support the Thalidomide survivors in Australia.

2019/Oct 2:    Channel Nine News interview and broadcast with Harry Frost highlighting the inaction of the Australian

                         Government to support the Thalidomide survivors in Australia.

2019/Oct 2:     Article by Josh Butler from '10daily'  highlighting the inaction of the Australian Government to support

                         the Thalidomide survivors in Australia.

2019/Oct 4:    Interview with Genevieve Jacobs from "The Riot Act" - Canberra  highlighting the inaction of the Australian 

                         Government to support the Thalidomide survivors in Australia.

2019/Oct 11 :    Interview  with Nine Network "A Current Affair" broadcast ... highlighting the inaction of the Australian

                          Government to support the Thalidomide survivors in Australia.

2019/Oct 11:    Letter from Thalidomide Group Australia to Health Minister Hunt requesting his understanding for a swift

                         resolution, full acceptance, and prompt implementation for all senate inquiry recommendations.

2019/Oct 15:    Parliament Canberra - the upper house passes a motion condemning the federal government's slow

                          response to a landmark report into the issue.

2019/Oct 15:    A second article by Josh Butler from "10daily" highlighting Senate Calls For 'Urgent' Apology To Australia's

                          Thalidomide Survivors

2019/Oct 16:    9 News Canberra feature a segment "Thalidomide survivors and disability advocates say the government

                          is dragging its feet on delivering compensation and a national apology".

** Please note:   This timeline is current as of October 18, 2019.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Dear  Government,

You allowed this untested drug into our country.  

You did nothing after the tragic results of Thalidomide was formally reported.  

You have, and are still, knowingly conducting business with Gruenthal with full knowledge of their

         close association with the Nazis.

You still allow Gruenthal to operate a business here in Australia today, knowing they were

         responsible for the murder and mutilation of countless thousands of babies.

You have never approached us to ask what we need and/or offered us support. 

You have never apologised for all that has happened under your “watch”.

Shame on YOU...