The apology was just the beginning
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 1, 21 February 2020, page no. 7
On 13 February, Australia again marked the day in 2008 when the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, issued an apology to the Stolen Generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on behalf of the nation.
The landmark 1997 “Bringing them home” report made 54 recommendations to address the damage done by the practice of forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families during most of the 20th Century. The 2008 apology was one part of one of them.
As I travel around the state visiting schools, I regularly see the formal copy of the Apology, one of the few things ever passed unanimously by the Australian Parliament, hanging on a wall in the office, staff room or library. Indeed, a copy hangs in the main boardroom of Education House, home of the Department of Education in Brisbane.
Across the world, truth telling has underpinned attempts by nations to reconcile with their first nations peoples. The 2008 Apology was both an important acknowledgement of the harm caused by government policies to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially the Stolen Generation, and a symbol of a nation moving to heal the past in the interests of genuine reconciliation
However, the evidence suggests that more children are being removed from their families now than at any time in the past. Death of young people, particularly by suicide, is at high levels and rising. Arguments about motivations behind policy do little to mitigate the reality of the damage continuing to be done.Let’s reflect on what the Apology started. Make those sentiments come to life for your students.
Together we can build a movement for real progress towards truth, treaty and voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.