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Saturday, 15 March 2008 00:00

Australian Apology to the Aboriginal People

Beloved Australians

With people of goodwill all over the world, I want to congratulate you as a people for the unequivocal apology to indigenous Australians made today in your national parliament by your Prime Minister.

Of course Apology does not take away the truth of the wrong that was done and the pain that continues to be felt through the generations by indigenous Australians. Nevertheless there is no doubt that this representative acknowledgment and "saying sorry" can be balm in the wounds, a major step and a turning point on the long journey towards restorative justice and healing for all Australians.

Over the years I have heard many of you speak about your own sense of guilt and shame about what happened in your country's history and the refusal of your previous Prime Minister to say sorry. Many of you have told me that you were ashamed to be Australians because of what has been done to indigenous people and to asylum seekers.

Today I am sure that many of you shed tears of joy that finally the day has come in a dignified way to squarely face the horror of what happened and to travel a new journey together.

All of here at the Institute are filled with renewed hope for the human family because of what happened in Australia today.

We appreciate the privilege we have had to listen to your stories and we wish you well as you strive together to close the gaps.

Please accept a loving embrace to you all, the ancient peoples of the land, and those who arrived more recently, all Australians

Michael Lapsley,SSM
15 March 2008

 


The Apology

February 12, 2008

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology motion has been tabled in Parliament:

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 fathers, the brothers and 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 Australian.

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 changed.

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.