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Remembering the apology

Remembering the apology

Thursday February 11, 2016

Parliament House Canberra (Image ABC)

Eight years ago, on February 13th 2008 the nation fell silent as then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd delivered a speech formally apologising to the Stolen Generations.

Australians gathered in front of their television screens to witness the long-awaited acknowledgment and apology to the Stolen Generations and their families.

Around the nation, tears of relief and joy were shed and an historic step taken in achieving reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people.  

This week Red Cross in Brisbane hosted a national event to mark the anniversary and as part of our commitment to reconciliation.  

Around 100 Red Cross staff attended via video conference in boardrooms across the nation to hear guest speaker Link-Up's Patricia Conlon describe the on-going impact of successive governments' policies of forced removals.  

Link-Up supports Stolen Generations people and helps them to find and reunite with families.  Link-Up carries out 30 reunions a year in Queensland alone, with Mrs Conlon describing it as "not hard work; it's heart work". Link-Up also runs healing camps with sessions to pamper their clients and look after them.  

Staff also heard from Kunghi Elder and Queensland Red Cross Divisional Board Member Aunty Flo Watson and Elders Amy Atkins and Rae Robinson.  

Aunty Amy became teary eyed while sharing her story, saying the consequences of past governments policies are still heavily felt among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.   Staff were moved by the reminder of the historical event.  

"To watch the full video of Kevin Rudd's apology in the presence of Elders and be told stories of the Stolen Generation directly from those who were affected was a really moving experience which I feel lucky to have been a part of. I haven't watched the video since I first heard it back in 2008, when I was too young to appreciate its significance. By the end of the video, there wasn't a dry eye in the room!" said NSW staff member Jessica Bracken.  

Staff member Andrea Lee from the Northern Territory could not hold back her tears. "I wasn't expecting to get so upset…I couldn't stop it. Memories of my grandmother being taken at three years old, only to see her mother when she was an adult, was overwhelming. Sadly for most Australians - our history teaching at school was about our 'white explorers' never the terrible damage and cost to Australia's Aboriginals."


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