While this could be seen as lacking in relevance to Broowaha readers, I beg to differ. We are after all, citizens of the world. So too, Americans and Australians alike are currently living in times of serious change and I believe, living in an atmosphere of hope.
On the 3rd of December, 2007 Australia changed government. Our 25th and second longest serving Prime Minister, the Liberal Party’s John Howard was succeeded by Labor’s Kevin Rudd after 11 years of service. For 11 years, this minion of George Bush has succeeded at stripping my country of most things I believed in. It was not just for adventure that I left my country 2 years ago.
For those of you who do not know, a dark cloud hangs over Australia’s past (and that we were settled as a penal colony is not that cloud) – a period that was not mentioned in Australian History Studies at my fancy, private girls’ school. This dark period pertains to what is known as ‘The Stolen Generation (or Generations)’ – addressed somewhat in the film ‘Rabbit Proof Fence,’ which was released stateside.
The Stolen Generation is a term used to describe the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander children, usually of mixed descent who were removed from their families by Australian Government agencies and church missions, under various state acts of parliament, denying the rights of parents and making all Aboriginal children wards of the state, between approximately 1869 and 1969. Yes, that was 1969 you read. The policy typically involved the removal of children into inernment camps, orphanages and other institutions. The Stolen Generation has received significant public attention in Australia following the publication in 1997 of Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.
According to the 'Bringing Them Home Report,' at least 100,000 children were removed from their parents, and the figure may be substantially higher (the report notes that formal records of removals were very poorly kept). What that translates to today, is that literally every, single Aboriginal family has a connection to this removal policy. Not a single family has been unaffected by this forcible removal policy and successive policies of ‘assimilation,’ which saw many aboriginal women raped and kept as sex slaves.
Eleven years after the Human Rights Commission said the Federal Parliament should apologize to Indigenous Australians, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will this afternoon say sorry. Only two months into a new government – with the previous, Howard government persisting in declining to acknowledge reconciliation efforts - I am here to witness something that I and millions of other Australians have marched and petitioned for, for a decade. This is a momentous day in Australian history. My children will learn about this day in Australian History Studies and for this, I am proud.
Hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal and non-aboriginal Australians have trekked from all over our vast country and descended upon Canberra (our Capitol Hill) along with all living former Prime Ministers except John Howard, to be present for the long-awaited formal apology that will be given at 9am, Australian, Eastern Daylight time or 2pm Pacific Standard Time in Los Angeles. Cities across the country are holding public gatherings where the apology can be viewed live on erected screens in a spirit of solidarity.
A condensed article, space and time do not permit to cover all aspects of this long debated, controversial decision but I will say this. When our meal is delivered cold, when a cash machine is out of order or when someone bumps into us on the street, we expect an apology. This does not mean that we necessarily expect compensation. When a friend’s loved one passes away, we say sorry because we can empathize, this does not mean that a relative of mine actually killed them. These are acts of common decency. Today I believe, is the very first step in the long road to reconciliation and once again, I feel hope about my country’s future.
The exact wording of the National Apology that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will deliver is as follows (released yesterday):
"Today we honor 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 apologize for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
We apologize 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."
You can stream the Formal Apology live and read more information here: