This year Tuesday, 13 February marks the 10th Anniversary of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology in Parliament to Australia’s Aboriginal Peoples, particularly the Stolen Generation.
The Apology is now considered a defining moment in Australian history.
Sorry Day is the anniversary of Bringing them Home: the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families being tabled in parliament is on the 26th of May 1997, over 20 years ago. The Bringing them Home Report can be found here.
The National Apology was delivered in response to recommendation 5a of Bringing them Home, which reads:
5a. That all Australian Parliaments
1. officially acknowledge the responsibility of their predecessors for the laws, policies and practices of forcible removal,
2. negotiate with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission [ATSIC] a form of words for official apologies to Indigenous individuals, families and communities and extend those apologies with wide and culturally appropriate publicity, and
3. make appropriate reparation as detailed in following recommendations.
WA can be proud!
The Commonwealth Parliament was the final parliament in Australia to make an official apology.
Western Australia was the first to apologise, on 27 May 1997, and the Northern Territory was the last state or territory to apologise, on 24 October 2001.
Australian Government information regarding the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples and the Apology Transcript can be found here.
You can view the National Apology speech here.
On 13 February 2008, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered an impassioned speech apologising to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Australian Government. The full transcript can be found on the reverse of this flyer.
‘Sorry Day’ is held on the 26 May - and has been since 1998. The first Sorry Day took place one year after the tabling of The Bringing Them Home Report in Parliament and having a day of commemoration was one of the recommendations within the report. The anniversary of the National Apology is a day which commemorates The Prime Minister of Australia making a formal apology to Australia’s Aboriginal Peoples and those whose lives had been blighted by past government policies of forced child removal and assimilation. 2018 is the 10th Anniversary of the Apology.
The National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families was established by the Federal Attorney-General in 1995. It was conducted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and their final report, titled The Bringing Them Home Report, was tabled in parliament in 1997. The report handed down 54 recommendations in response to these findings, many of which have not been implemented by any government since.
Kevin Rudd’s apology is not the end of the matters of the Stolen Generations. An apology and acknowledgement for the Stolen Generations was one fifth of one recommendation from the total 54 recommendations included in The Bringing Them Home report.
Kevin Rudd did not apologise on behalf of every non-Aboriginal Australian citizen, he did so on behalf of the Government. The Government, along with the Church, are the two main organisations who hold a level of culpability for the Stolen Generations. Individual Australians, however, can still acknowledge the pain and suffering caused. It doesn’t matter whether or not you were personally responsible; you can claim a sense of nationalistic sorrow for the people affected by policies enacted in the name of Australia.
Even though there are many legitimate reasons to feel let down by the Apology, and the lack of action since then, it is still important to acknowledge the emotion felt by the many survivors who felt their stories had finally been acknowledged on this day, and by the many other Australians who joined in.
The ‘Stolen Generations’ Testimonies’ project is an initiative to record on film the personal testimonies of Australia’s Stolen Generations Survivors. Reports, research or books can never bring home the realities of the Stolen Generations as much as listening to those who actually lived through it.
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