Wednesday, February 13, 2008
At 9AM this morning, the Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd apologised on the behalf of the Australian Government to Aboriginal people. The Aborigines are the native people of Australia who were in possession of the land before white people came to settle in 1788.
He apologised for their treatment at the hands of past Australian Governments, particularly for the Stolen Generation.
This apology was a good thing.
A snippet from SMH:
"Australia has formally apologised to the stolen generations with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd reading a speech in Federal Parliament this morning.
The apology was read at 9am to the minute, as the first action of the second sitting day of the 42nd Parliament of Australia.
Both Mr Rudd and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin received a standing ovation as they entered the Great Hall before the Prime Minister delivered the speech.
The reading of the 361-word apology was completed by 9.03am and was watched by hundreds of parliamentarians, former prime ministers and representatives of the indigenous community.
Former prime ministers Paul Keating, Bob Hawke, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser and Sir William Deane were all seated on the floor of the Parliament as well as 17 people representing the stolen generation.
In another address directly after reading the apology, Mr Rudd spoke of removing a "stain from the soul of Australia".
Mr Rudd's speech received a standing ovation at the Redfern Community Centre, where hundreds gathered.
Residents, workers, families, students and Sydney's Lord Mayor Clover Moore braved the rain to watch the speech via a large outdoor screen.
David Page, composer with the indigenous dance group Bangarra Dance Theatre, said he liked the fact that Mr Rudd made a personal apology.
"It was very moving to see a prime minister with a bit of heart. I loved it when he said he was sorry. There was just something personal about it. It's very hard for a prime minister to be personal," he said.
Enid Williams, 72, who was brought up on a mission in north Queensland after her father was forcibly removed from his family, said she was happy with Mr Rudd's speech, but said it was now important to look to the future.
"I'm 72. The main thing is the young people, to give them a better future."
At Martin Place in Sydney, hundreds of Sydneysiders from all walks of life gathered to watch the Sorry Day celebrations holding Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.
Men and women in business suits, schoolchildren and other passers-by of all different backgrounds cried, smiled and stood in respect as they listened to Mr Rudd apologise."
Can't find the transcript of the whole speech but there's a full audio of it here and you can send a message to the PM here at the PM's official website.
My personal apology
I am sorry for Terra Nullius, the taking of Aboriginal land in 1788 that started it all.
I am sorry for all the racism and rip-offs I and my fellow Australians have put upon the Aborigines in the 220 years since 1788.
I am sorry most of all for the Stolen Generation, for the forcible removal of children from their Aboriginal parents on the flimsiest of excuses and sometimes without any excuse, for no other reason than race. No matter what advantages those children may or may not have gained by their removal, it was wrong.
Read all about it
Kevin Rudd says sorry
VIDEO of the Sorry speech (if link not working, go via link above)
AUDIO of the Sorry speech
Day of healing for Aboriginal leaders
Speech gets standing ovation in Redfern
Martin Place crowd weep for the Stolen Generations
Backs turned on Nelson's response
Ancient tensions fail to mar apology
Sorry speech was maginificent
Thunderous appause in Sydney for Rudd's speech
Long queue to witness Rudd speech
Bondi BBQ for live apology
Britain urged to back Rudd's apology
A nation apologises
Family saddened by apology that came too late
A nation shocked by tales of sorrow
Protest against intervention
Welcome ritual marks opening of Parliment
Tears for those who vanished never to return again
Mother's regret carried to the grave
Finally their voices will be heard
Have your say
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Send a message to the PM
Rudd's speech on screens at east Gosford posted on Flickr by Keith Pitty
If anyone has the full transcript of Rudd's speech, feel free to paste it into the comments.