Apology to the Stolen Generations

On the 13th of February 2008, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered a landmark apology to the Stolen Generations. Emotions ran high as thousands of Aboriginal people gathered in Canberra to watch the Apology, which was also televised across Australia. In his milestone speech, Mr Rudd delivered the following apology:

“That 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.”

In 2013, five years on from this famous speech, Kevin Rudd reflected on the Apology and looked to the future of reconciliation at the Reconciliation SA Breakfast. Read this speech here.

There is Still Work to Be Done

Reconciliation SA has campaigned and promoted the need for all recommendations from the Bringing Them Home Report to be enacted campaign to promote the Bringing Them Home report recommendations that have not been enacted.

In doing this, Reconciliation SA in the 20th year anniversary of the Bringing Them Home Report released a report and scorecard outlining the achievements and remaining outstanding recommendations.

In further progress these recommendations Reconciliation SA supported the work of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Committee in advancing the 2010 Stolen Generations Reparations Tribunal Bill (a private member’s Bill moved by Ms Tammy Franks of the Greens). This has resulted in the Stolen Generation Reparations Scheme that has now rolled out across South Australia.

Learn more about reconciliation in South Australia by visiting our Interactive Timeline.