Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Australia says Sorry

Click the above image to view an audio slide show
courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald

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Tomorrow, the 13 February 2008, the Federal Parliament of Australia will apologise to the Aboriginal people of Australia, for the government's role in the forcible removal of aboriginal children from their families and the placing of them with white families.
According to Bringing them Home, the 1997 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report that blew the top off the policy, over 100,000 children were forcibly removed and made wards of the state between 1910 and 1970. These children became known as the Stolen Generation. Forced to work on isolated outback farms, or to live in State boarding houses, where physical and sexual abuse was reportedly rife, the Stolen Generation's legacy is largely said to be one of the reasons behind widespread social dysfunctionality and disharmony amongst aboriginal communities in Australia today.
The struggle to recognise the Stolen Generation has been a long one. Australia's previous government, led by John Howard, controversially refused to apologise for the the Australian government's role in the Stolen Generation, claiming that his government could not be held accountable for actions of past Australian governments.
The refusal to apologise was indicative of the Howard government's obstinate "if I don't have to I won't" style of leadership (see previous post "A crack in the shell and it all fell apart..."). As such, tomorrow's gesture will mark a clean break from the policy of previous governments toward the Stolen Generation issue and will represent a significant step in the process of reconciliation that is currently taking place in my country.

It's difficult to understand Australia's story without understanding the story of Australia's aborigines. Tomorrow's apology marks a new and necessary chapter in both of those stories.

Below is a selection of media coverage in Australian and International newspapers:
The full text of the Australian government's apology can be seen here.

1 comment:

Lima said...

About time too!

All these people who keep saying "he's not saying sorry on behalf of me!" can please be quiet as he isn't!

As I see it, it's more a gesture of good faith to the Aboriginal people of Australia, to get the ball rolling on improving the conditions of Aboriginal Australians, And I for one am glad, and hope alot of good comes out of this.