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February 13, 2008

Apology to the Stolen Generations

I found tears welling in my eyes this morning as I listened to the broadcast of proceedings from Parliament House in Canberra as the final preparations for the delivery of the apology from the Australian Government to the Stolen Generations was made. It was a moment of both relief and thankfulness that this well-overdue apology was made, and a platform laid for moving forward in a spirit of honesty and cooperation.
Indigenous Australia has suffered greatly from European Settlement, not just with the Stolen Generations but began with the creeping assumption of land from them, depriving them of livelihood, sacred sites and freedom of movement. The treatment meted out to Aboriginal peoples has been a scar on this nation’s history, one kept hidden for too long. The release of the “Bringing them Home” report in 1997 for the first time openly detailed the impact of policies which endured during my own schooling years, not to mention the continuing approach which comes at high cost to Indigenous Australia.
Today, some sense of pride was restored for me: pride in our political institutions and pride in our national character, a pride which will always be tinged with a sense of shame that it took so long to acknowledge what our country has done. I long to see the day when not only a mace sits in parliament – a symbolic reminder of the power of the speaker, but a symbol of the Indigenous heritage of our land sits alongside it, so that Parliament will never sit with its eyes unable to see the Indigenous people of this land.
Let me adapt a line from the second verse of the Australian National Anthem: “With courage let us NOW combine to Advance Australia fare”

Posted by gary at February 13, 2008 01:50 PM


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