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13 February 2008 @ 09:36 am
Sorry is the first step  
This morning Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, delivered an apology to the Stolen Generations, Indigenous Australian children forcibly removed from their families. At long last, the federal government has followed state governments in offering a heartfelt apology to the Indigenous community. The motion was supported by the Opposition.

As an Australian citizen, this is probably the most meaningful and momentous public statement I have witnessed our nation's parliament make in my adult life.

The grassroots movement GetUp! organised a candle display on the parliament lawns which says 'Sorry, the first step'. It is a fitting statement, since words alone will not close the gap between Indigeous and non-Indigenous Australians in terms of child mortality, life expectancy, literacy, education and economic opportunity. In Kevin Rudd's speech this morning, which we stopped work to listen to, he acknowledged this and pledged to take action to close the gap.

On a personal level, I was touched by his acknowledgment of the importance of mothers. And as a woman I was proud to see Julia Gillard--the first female deputy PM in Australian history--at his right shoulder as he spoke.

As an Australian citizen, for the past and present wrongs to the Indigenous community, I say sorry.
 
 
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smact46smact46 on February 13th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
"As an Australian citizen, this is probably the most meaningful and momentous public statement I have witnessed our nation's parliament make in my adult life."

I agree and in my opinion, not before time.

I know that we have still a long way to go, but I thought this to be a well constructed, respectful statement, an acknowledgement of past mistakes that have contributed to those in the present.

It is so important for people who have suffered and lost identity to be both heard and to have their collective pain ackowledged.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee collapsedbop_radar on February 13th, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC)
*nods* I'm glad you feel the same way! I agree about the speech--I found it well constructed and respectful and I gather it's been generally well received. I was impressed that it included mention of concrete measures to improve the well-being of Indigenous Australians. Of course there's a lot of followthrough that has to happen now, but it offered hope and I liked the way he phrased it as an 'audacity of faith' to believe real change is possible. I think that's a great way of summing up what's required to counter the cynical inner voice that would say 'it's all too hard'.
redteekalredteekal on February 13th, 2008 06:52 am (UTC)
I'm just pissed it took a government this long to acknowledge the necessity of this. But then in the world history of governments there have been very few that have had the guts to admit past wrongs especially on a scale such as this one....let alone apologise for it. It's a vast and in no way unique problem (the divide between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous) and this will not solve it....but it is definitely the first step.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Karabop_radar on February 13th, 2008 11:30 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's taken a long time. Yet on the other hand, so many were saying they thought they' never hear the government say sorry. So it's a big step, and opens the door to other change being possible.
brokenmnemonic: Hall of the Deadbrokenmnemonic on February 13th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
I remember the fuss that went on here a few years ago over an apology for slavery. The Australian government has apologised far more quickly for actions far more quickly than other governments around the world. I guess what I'm waiting for is the Jed Bartlett question... "What's next?"

It goes to show just how different this government is to the previous one.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee dreamybop_radar on February 13th, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
I was pleased to see that Rudd addressed the 'what's next?' question in his speech. He's talking about a radical new bipartisan taskforce to address the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. And there were a lot of positive signs, like the fact he acknowledged that there was no one method that would work for all communities--they'd have to look at each individually. That's SO important for such a diverse community. I think his government's going to be under a lot of pressure to deliver concrete change now, and some may call him 'stupid' for opening the government up to that, but I think it's necessary. Even if it does mean messy calls for compensation, divisive arguments about what's required, etc.

It really does feel like a new era in Australian politics--and for the first time in my adult life I feel like the government represents me. It's the first time the party I voted for is in power, and they're very very far from perfect, but it actually feels like change is possible.