Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sorry

Yesterday, I met a woman with a gentle face named Donna. She was cooling her feet in the lake at parliament house and we talked for a while.

She had been taken from her parents, along with her six brothers and sisters. She had been adopted by a kind and loving white couple, but her brothers had been sent to a home and suffered unimaginable abuse.

I wanted to say sorry to her personally, but in all honesty, I was too shy for such grandiose gestures.

But this is the apology that will be made today.

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 fathers, the brothers and 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.

p>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 changed.

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.

I have experienced 36 Australia Days and 36 Anzac Days, and yet I can't remember when I have felt such pride and hope in my country.

4 Comments:

Blogger Sailor said...

Again, congratulations to the whole darn country, for having the honor, the integrity to stand up and acknowledge the wrongs, and apologize.

You have every right to be proud of your Country, at moments like this.

Good for you all

11:47 PM  
Blogger Brown Eyed Chap said...

I agree, it was amazing to see something like this said publicly - it put Oz further up the 'cool countries' list in my opinion.

Has anything like this ever happened in the USA? if not, it would be great to see as well.

3:44 AM  
Blogger C-Marie said...

Amazing...
Congratulations!

3:56 AM  
Blogger akakarma said...

Americans too have a huge debt towards their indigenous peoples. Great post Emily!

5:56 AM  

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