Five years ago todayPosted: February 13, 2013 Filed under: AUSTRALIA | Tags: aboriginal culture, aboriginal history, Australian Aboriginal history, healing of our nation, KEVIN RUDD SPEECH, shameful Australian history, sorry, Sorry Day, SORRY SPEECH, Stolen generations, the day we said sorry 2 Comments
I don’t think I really understood the term ‘Stolen Generations’ until I became a mother. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that someone could walk into your house and steal your children because they believed their way of life and thinking was better than the one your people had followed for thousands of years. Five years ago our then Prime Minister gave this speech as an apology to the original owners of our country. I remember crying as I watched the faces of the elders as they listened to him speaking, the pain of their history etched into their DNA.
“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.”
Gave me goosebumps. A good effort for a step forward -how far that effort has gone and will go in the future, still to be determined I guess.
It takes a lot more than a few words to change people’s attitudes and racism is -in smaller or bigger degrees- ingrained in all of us I’m afraid. Some are suspicious of those with darker skin, some are suspicious or those of a different religion. Many have moments when they bask in their perceived superiority over those less ______ (fill in word of your choice) than them and then feel guilty for all of 2 seconds. Many smile and claim to consider all human kind to be equal but please don’t ask them to get out of their comfort zone to help those more unfortunate, that’s asking for too much. We’ve all been guilty of one or the other at some point. I think admitting that guilt is important. It’s like admitting you’re an alcoholic. You can’t do something about it until you admit you have a problem (how many times have I heard the phrase “I’m not a racist but” followed by something very racist!).
But you still need to make that leap and stop drinking or an alcoholic you’re remain.
I hope we’ll take that leap and stop hurting people with out actions, our words and our thoughts.
That phrase “I’m not racist, but,” drives me nuts. Education is important, we must keep teaching little ones that we are all the same. My kids learn about aboriginal history at school. I don’t remember being taught any of Australia’s shameful history when I was at school. Sometimes I find myself staring at families at work because they are so different to me, but then I am reminded we all laugh, we all cry, we can all be compassionate, we all hurt when our loved ones are hurting. Hopefully the apology was a good start.