Tenth Anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generation

On 13 February, 2008 – 10 years ago today – the then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised for the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the policies that caused pain, trauma and suffering for those peoples.

It was hoped the apology would help to mend relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The hope was that an official apology would help “close the gap” on a range of measures, including health, education, employment and incarceration rates.

A decade later – NATSICC Chair, John Lochowiak, says that the trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has had an intergenerational impact - which means some of the indicators of “closing the gap” have not yet been met while others have only widened.

“We must continue to heal and continue to strive for better outcomes for our people,” he said.

“We hoped that the apology would bring us closer together with non-Indigenous Australians. Recent things like the argument around moving Australia Day show that we still have some way to go.”

Mr Lochowiak also recalled the optimism that flowed from former-Prime Minister Rudd’s formal apology.

“On that day, it felt as if all Australians were as one,” he said.

“I want that feeling to continue and for all of us to work together so that when the 20th anniversary of the apology comes, our peo

Hope for unity and betterment

Bishop Eugenie Hurley, Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, says that - despite significant efforts - Indigenous Australians are over-represented in prisons, struggle to find suitable housing and out-of-home care, and experience racism on a daily basis.

“The Church wishes to reaffirm and record our commitment to continue the healing process for the benefit of victims of the unjust policies of the past, to support the just needs of Indigenous people today and to contribute to the quest for national reconciliation,” Bishop Hurley said.

He went on to say the apology and the anniversary of it are a symbol of hope.

Working hard to build a better future

“We must build this hope for a better future by ensuring that in full consultation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, practical steps are taken to address the grossly entrenched disadvantages many of our First Nations brothers and sister endure every day. Now is the time to move forward and live out the promises made 10-years ago.”

ple are living longer, gaining a better education and living to our full potential.”

National Sorry Day

NATSICC has a number of resources and materials available to mark the 10th anniversary of the apology, and Lawyer and priest Fr Frank Brennan SJ has written a reflection for the anniversary.

National Sorry Day is an Australia-wide observance held on 26 May each year. This day gives people the chance to come together and share the steps towards healing for the Stolen Generations, their families and communities.

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