Still ‘a long road’ to reconciliation

Robert DoughertyNorth West Telegraph

The 10th anniversary of the Australian apology by Kevin Rudd to members of the Stolen Generation was marked this week, but indigenous leaders say there is still a long way to go for reconciliation.

On the first day of Parliament in 2008, the former Prime Minister made the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples to address the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, and a pledge to improve conditions.

Mr Rudd referred to “this blemished chapter in our national history” and apologised for “the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians”.

Port Hedland’s first indigenous female councillor, Telona Pitt, said the February 13 date was incredibly significant and began the process of reconciliation. “I think it was something the Government had to do to begin the process of reconciliation; it was a significant day for many indigenous people whose families have felt the sting of the Stolen Generation,” she said.

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In the original apology Mr Rudd said around 10 to 30 per cent of indigenous children were forcibly taken from their families between 1910 and 1970.

Reconciliation Australia chief executive Karen Mundine said the apology was vital in building a respectful relationship.

“Understanding and acknowledging past wrongs and their continuing impact is crucial to building stronger relationships, which are at the heart of reconciliation,” she said. “The simple act of the apology showed us how we could face some of the ugly truths of our past to allow us to move forward together.”

Ms Mundine said Australia risked repeating past wrongs, with Aboriginal children placed in out-of-home care at 10 times the rate of non-indigenous children, according to a 2017 Family Matters Report.

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