Finally, a leader, a government and a parliament of Australia has had the guts and common decency to stand up and officially say “Sorry” to indigenous Australians and the Stolen Generations for the pain, heartache and cultural chaos caused by families being ripped apart due to systemic and personal racism.
I don’t think there was a dry eye in the country today; I certainly hope not. This apology was way, way over due.
For my own part, I want to add my own sincere and heartfelt apology to the official one. Since Bringing Them Home report came out, I have been deeply emotionally affected by the stories of the Stolen Generation and the knowledge of how truly shattering the long term effects of what amounts to attempted genocide has been (and often still is). These harmful policies were enacted by our grandparents, our parents and us. It’s no use pretending it is all in the past; the consequences to individuals, families, communities and cultures were and are devastating. Our actions as a nation have profoundly wounded the entire indigenous community and it truly is time for Reconciliation.
Here is the full text of the apology:
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.
But to Brendon Nelson, John Howard and the Liberal Party, I say this:
How dare you mar a day like this with your half-arsed, quibbling response. The supposed “good intentions” of the people enacting the systemic racism is no excuse. Nor is the “not my generation” line. What a load of bull. No wonder people turned their backs on you.
How dare John Howard (who famously refused to say ‘sorry’ through out his multiple terms as PM), alone of all Australia’s past Prime Ministers, be so arrogant as to not attend the apology speech. No wonder he was ousted. Australia has had enough.