From the late 1800s, up until 1969, aboriginal and torres straight islander children were taken from their families by Australian government and church missions and placed in camps, orphanages and other institutions. The government believed they were doing the right thing by these children and were giving them a better chance at life than what they were getting from their families.
Today, our recently-elected prime minister stood before parliament and delivered a 30 minute apology to the “Stolen Generation” and those families affected by what happened. Up until Rudd’s appointment as PM, no government had been willing to own and accept the responsibility of what took place all those years ago, claiming they weren’t the ones who did it, why should THEY apologize.
This is supposed to bring our nation together.
The entire apology lasted an hour, with the PM speaking for about 30 minutes, followed by the leader of the opposition party. The leader of the party who has refused to acknowledge the stolen generation. He was not warmly received, as you can imagine. The first 15 minutes of our PM’s speech was appropriate, heart-felt, sincere. And it really could have ended there. I’m still trying to figure out Aussie politics, but I’m not sure why the opposition had to speak for 25 minutes. And he went on and on and was just awful. I feel like the actual apology may have gotten lost in all the pomp and circumstance.
That said, the fact that Rudd vowed to do this and did so, against the wishes and without support of many of his peers and colleagues, speaks volumes about him as a person and a leader. I truly believe that HE believes this was long over due and much needed if this country is going to move forward as one.
Will be interesting to see what happens now that they’ve got their apology. No monetary compensation has been offered, and at this point it won’t be. Newspapers have claimed that aboriginal leaders have said $1Billion wouldn’t be enough to make up for what happened. I’d like to think this is the end and we can move forward, but if George W Bush got up and publicly apologized for slavery, do you really think people would drop it and move on? Doubtful.