Today marks the 11th year since the historic day when Kevin Rudd delivered thenational apology to the Stolen Generations. I was at Lonely Planet at the time. We all sat and watched it together. There was silence and tears as we listened. We all felt it was such a profound moment for our country.
I want to share with you the thoughts of Lee Prouse, Co-Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Team.
“On February 13 2008 I stood with tears on my cheeks amongst many other people on the lawns of the Tasmanian Parliament and watched the apology. I heard the words – ‘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.’ I thought, we are on our way - people will begin to understand our people – the healing can start for some.
“This anniversary is a time for reflection and celebration for some. In my eyes, we have moved forward (albeit at a snail’s pace). There has been movement towards reconciliation, understanding and recognition. However, we should not also forget that we are still have many things to be addressed - intergenerational trauma, over incarceration rates, higher unemployment rates and shorter life spans. The apology was a start to redressing some of the wrongs. We can celebrate the anniversary but make sure we don’t stop there – it's unfinished business."
Our Board Member Ian Hamm wrote this emotional piece last year, which marked a decade since the Apology. I encourage you to read it to understand the depths of the impact and meaning. I think it is a timely reminder for all of us to think about what each of us can do to make Australia a better place.
You can also learn more from the Healing Foundation and listen to survivors' stories to support healing.
Outcome of the Indigenous suicide inquest
Last week I read about the outcomes of the Aboriginal youth suicide inquest.
The Western Australian Coroner handed down her findings into the suicides of 13 children in Kimberly. The confronting report draws a direct link to the impact of intergenerational trauma. I encourage our staff in the region and others who work in the mental health and youth space to look after themselves and each other.
Further support is available through our EAP provider including specialist services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The death of any child is painful and to lose them to suicide is heart wrenching. We still have a long way to go. Let’s all take some time to reflect on the roles that we can play in shaping a better tomorrow.
Earlier this month Red Cross marched in pride for the first time alongside organisations and members of our Victorian communities to celebrate solidarity in gender and sexual diversity.
The heat was almost unbearable but the celebratory atmosphere was contagious and through the sunscreen, glitter and sweat were faces filled with smiles.
Staff, volunteers and staff from the Blood Service marched united in our Red Cross t-shirts, fluoro vests and rainbow flags in support of equality, inclusion, respect and safety for our LGBTI communities.
Humanitarians at work in Townsville
The conditions in Townsville and surrounding areas are easing but our work continues to assist those affected by the flood.
Yesterday, 64 Red Cross personnel supported over 1,330 people in the Recovery Hubs and Outreach. Eight personnel are coordinating field operations, logistics and liaison activities in Townsville. An incident management team of 18 is operating in Brisbane. Register.Find.Reunite. was deactivated on Sunday 10 February 2019 – there were a total of 1,339 registrations and 232 enquiries.
While our amazing Red Cross people do their amazing work, the whole community is involved. “As flood-hit Townsville counts the cost, a 15-year-old boy inspires an army of volunteers”. You can read the article here.
Our Board at Work
This coming Friday and Saturday our Board (made up of committed volunteers) are meeting for the first time this year. I’ll be able to give you an update on the meeting next week.
That’s all for now.