February 13th, 2008

Tiger cub

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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