13 February 2008

sorry

This morning at 9.00am, I sat in the warmth of my car outside the children's school. I ate a breakfast bar (recipe from Nigella), watched the cockies play in the gum trees, and listened.

It felt really, really good.


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.


Sorry.

33 comments:

hazeljoy said...

wow, indeed. i've just sat and watched the very same broadcast on bbc breakfast news. and wow.

Belinda said...

Very proud to be an Australian today.

herhimnbryn said...

I arrived early to support an elderly client this morning. Like you, I sat in the car and listened and listened. It was a good speech and I added my apologies too.

When I was welcomed in by my client, she had the ceremony on the television. I was told to sit and watch, because it was an 'historic day'. She also reminded me to think of all the children ( some as young as 4, who were sent out from the UK to Australia, to an unknown and often frightening future).

Janet said...

oh yes, a historic day. I feel it may have touched us more than we imagined.

It just felt so right. To be saying sorry in this formal, ceremonious way.

Hyena In Petticoats said...

Amazing, isn't it?

And crazy to think it's taken us so long.

Lets hope the future is better.

xxxx

Jodie said...

Oh we watched it at school- it was powerful ! at long last.

Kim said...

What a day.
I was SO pleased that both the boys schools stopped and watched it with all the kids too.

blackbird said...

Such a thing...
I'll be sure to tell my boys about it - read it to them.
It's a lesson for the world.

Stacey said...

I too listened to it from the car outside school.
I shed a bit of a tear, watching the kids running around on the oval, so secure in their homes, with their parents.
I hope today was day one for a new Australia.

Sinda said...

I woke up today listening to it on NPR - it was very powerful. Your new guy seems pretty great - I hope we get a new guy like that.

Courtney said...

I must say that today is the first I have ever heard of the "Stolen Generations". I am reading more about it in the American news. What a moving speech. I agree with blackbird. . .it's a lesson for the world. Thank you for your post today!

Dawn said...

This is so beautiful and you should be proud to be an Australian. I hope and pray that others follow in the example that your country has set for the world today.

Zephyr said...

It's really wonderful that your new PM gave this speech...and gives me a glimmer of hope that here in the US we may one day have a man or woman with as much courage and respect for all people to issue our apology to our people...there are so many of our own citizens that our government has seen fit to persecute.
But...Cheers for Australia's heart and for your future!

Molly said...

Nice to see those in power taking the high road for a change! Reminds me of the native peoples of this country....

Martina said...

Wow. Would that I could find the words to let you know how good that makes me feel (and I am a Canadian not Australian). If honest apologies were given to all aboriginal peoples across the world maybe we would all start the healing that Australia has.

Jamsandwich said...

Proud to be an australian on this historic day - it's been a long time coming.

angelique said...

Why has this taken so long and let's hope it's not all lip service. I hope this is all for the better now. I am sad that I was not home to see it happen. I read the internet papers but it is hard to get any real feeling out of them and the Noumeans are not really interested in what happens in Oz even though we are so close. sorry for the rambling on. Had to do it somewhere and your blog looked as good as any! cheers Angelique

bonjos said...

Shed lots of tears yesterday ,what an emotional day. Proud to be an Australian, there's hope for the future.

Wendy said...

Oh how I wish the US government would follow suit.

Jelly Wares said...

It's wonderful that Kevin Rudd has stepped up to the plate to make a difference... How fantastic that you feel so passionate about our country's history/heritage. Did you know at the same time that Abouriginals were getting their children taken/stolen off them it was also happening to the not so fortunate white families in rural Australia??

Hopefully Kevin Rudd will be the turning point for a lot of the wrongs that Australian governments have written over the years to both Indigenous and White Australians..

Jodie

meggie said...

I had the tears & the overwhelming pride when I heard Kevin's words. I also thought of all the little children 'stolen' from England, & the terrible things that were done to those children, too. Australia can only get better.

Judi said...

At last Australia stopped for a positive reason. one that is very important to the future of the spirit and emotional well being of all of us. A hugely important first step.

Bec said...

I was moved enough to actually send an email to the Prime Minister's office saying 'thank-you for saying sorry'. My husband and I were remarking that it was the first time in years that we actually felt proud to be Australian, rather than embarrassed! On a scary note though, I have heard that a Channel 10 poll showed that 75% of viewers still opposed the apology...how very very sad a reminder of how far we still have to go to be a more caring, compassionate and generous nation....

shula said...

The hostility to this has made me feel sick.

And I will be happier when I see it all transform into affirmative action.

But it's a Good Start, isn't it? Good on Kev for stepping up.

Willow said...

I read your post with tears welling up in my eyes. I lived for many years in Papua, Indonesia and know the heartaches caused by government policies that marginalize Indigenous People (to say the least). Perhaps there is hope for the Papuans, too.

PS: I've always loved Australians for their support of the Papuan people in Indonesia.

Ex-Shammickite said...

I saw and heard this on Canadian radio and TV too. Of course, the same things happened here.... first nations children taken away from their families, their language, their traditions and cultures. But I don't think our government has made any moving apologies, not yet anyway.

Poppy & Mei said...

It feels so good to be able to come home proud. It's been a while...Xxx

fiveandtwo said...

Oh yes - alright!
And I don't have to listen to my dad carry on about how the "abos get everything".
Yeah right, dad. Come away from that awful, patronising old stuff. Acknowledge the raw deal these people got.
Surely, as a parent, you could empathise with those mothers and fathers whose children were taken away. Surely you can imagine the pain.
So many years spent in the NT, so much contact with the Yolngu people, still such an intolerant bigot.
Sorry to the indigenous people. So sorry. And sorry on behalf of my dad, who'll never be able to get there.

MsCellania said...

Such a great day - really for the whole world. The boys have been studying about slavery and sorry, sad things in the past. We could all do with a global
SORRY
and then add "And let's not let that happen to anybody, anywhere ever again!"

Rachel Bingham said...

That was so beautiful. Thank you for posting that. I really enjoy reading your blog.

Fairlie said...

It sounds like there was a lot of us sitting in cars!

Caroline said...

Thank you for this post. It was on our news a little, but I didn't hear the whole content of the speech. Very powerful!

Meghan said...

I sat and cried watching it, about time.