13 February 2008

Sorry... apologising to the Stolen Generations

Following on from yesterday's historic opening of the Australian Parliament, another equally momentous and historic event happened today.

The Australian Prime Minister apologised to the stolen generation on behalf of the Australian Parliament and the Australian Government.
Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations—this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

You can read Prime Minister Rudd's additional statement here, in which he explains the reason for the official apology.

The apology follows on from the 1997 Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. It has taken a long time for the apology, as Prime Minister Rudd mentioned
from the nation’s parliament there has been a stony and stubborn and deafening silence for more than a decade; a view that somehow we, the parliament, should suspend our most basic instincts of what is right and what is wrong; a view that, instead, we should look for any pretext to push this great wrong to one side, to leave it languishing with the historians, the academics and the cultural warriors, as if the stolen generations are little more than an interesting sociological phenomenon. But the stolen generations are not intellectual curiosities. They are human beings; human beings who have been damaged deeply by the decisions of parliaments and governments. But, as of today, the time for denial, the time for delay, has at last come to an end.

The nation is demanding of its political leadership to take us forward. Decency, human decency, universal human decency, demands that the nation now step forward to right an historical wrong. That is what we are doing in this place today.
Every single television set was turned on at my workplace (and in many others) so that staff could watch the speech. Elsewhere, Australians gathered to watch on big screens.

Thousands gather at Melbourne's Federation Square to watch Prime Minister Kevin Rudd make an apology to indigenous Australians. Picture: Stuart McEvoy

Media reporting from
- ABC News
- Sydney Morning Herald
- The Australian

I think I've done five days worth of work in three days this week. Two more days to go before the weekend.

I went to the markets after work to buy some vegetables. It felt a bit strange not shopping for beef bones and chicken wings for Kane2. As heavy as they were to carry home (some four to five kilos, in addition to other things), I really looked forward to the routine and to giving Kane2 his fresh food.

Emily came around this evening. I prepared ingredients and she cooked Hokkien noodles with Chinese roast duck, bok choy, baby corn and puff tofu. We also watched tonight's Food Safari, which was Brazilian cuisine, as well as the previous fortnight's - Hungarian (which I've already seen) and Sri Lankan.

(reminder to self - Emily has borrowed Battlestar Galactica season 2 and Line of Beauty DVDs)

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