February 14th 2008
Australia says sorry
As Magnetic Times is presently visiting Canberra there was an unprecedented opportunity to attend the national apology to the stolen generation on the lawns in front of Paliament House. With such an historic occasion before us I decided to document the moment for the benefit of our Magnetic Island and world wide readership. Following is a photo essay preceded by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology.
Today we honour the indigenous people's 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 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 form their communities and their country.
For thier pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. And for the indignity and degradation this inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
We the parliamentof 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 were we can 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 equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.
(The following images were taken during and following the Sorry Day address from the area between the old and new Parliamnet House and also at the site of the, 30 year long occupied, Aboriginal tent embassy. Ed)
Photos: George Hirst
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