Politics and activism


I’m sure I wrote about this before, some time ago, but I can’t find it right now.

I wasn’t there. I’m not to blame. But that doesn’t stop me expressing regret that it happened, especially if it helps to heal old wounds, and I applaud our new government in making a national apology.


Update 7:45pm. Well done, whoever wrote the official text to be delivered tomorrow.

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

5 replies on “Sorry”

yes, a late apology is better than none.
I note the wording “We apologise for the laws and policies of successive … governments”. My understanding is that it wasn’t the laws that facilitated the taking of aboriginal children away from their families, it was the racist practices of “welfare workers” and others. Curious!

Some were treated little better than diseased dogs, for which we should say sorry.
But others,like hubby’s great grandmother,were rescued.
I hope changes are seen very soon in Indigenous communities everywhere.

Most governments go to great lengths to avoid taking responsibility for wrongdoing or bad policies. I am glad that the government of my future home is doing this even if it is too late to right the wrongs comitted.

My German teacher (as in: a teacher from Germany teaching German…) couldn’t understand the controversy about whether we, as a nation, should say sorry. She likened it to the situation in Germany with the Jews and the Holocaust. Her generation weren’t responsible, but it doesn’t stop them expressing shame and regret at such a black period in their nation’s history. A good parallel, I thought.

If you wonder how hard it is for a government or a nation to say a simple “sorry” look at the continuing strife between China and Japan over Japan’s refusal to apologize for its atrocities in the 1930s and WWII.

The Australian abuse of indigineous peoples went on longer, but for pure concentrated evil, Japan still has a lot to apologize for and still has a lot of people who froth at the mouth any time an apology is contemplated.

The only people I’ve seen who resist apologizing as strongly as the Japanese are two-year-old children.

To quote an Australian phrase: “Good on ya, mates!” Now if Japan could just reach the national level of emotional maturity Australia has achieved.

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