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Hansard Transcript, May 28, Apology for Stolen Generations

Posted May 28, 2014

 

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (09:42):  Today I am going to make an important speech, perhaps the most significant speech I will ever make in this House. I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of this country where we gather today. I would particularly like to acknowledge the traditional owners, custodians, elders and people of the electorate of Indi.

 

During the campaign I made a commitment to come to this place, the parliament of all Australia, and make a formal apology on behalf of the people of Indi, because, sadly, the people of Indi were not represented in this parliament in 2008 when the former Prime Minister Rudd made the national apology.

Today, as the duly elected representative of the people of Indi, I come to fulfil this commitment and to offer an apology, using Mr Rudd's words.

To the generation of stolen children and their families who live or have lived in Indi, I apologise for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on their fellow Australians.

I 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, I am sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, the aunts and the uncles, for the breaking up of families and communities, I am sorry. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, I am sorry. In conclusion, I respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered, as part of the healing of this nation.

I hope this apology will provide another step in the healing process for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and the communities of Indi.

I am so proud to be able to do this apology in a week when Australia acknowledges Sorry Day and celebrates Reconciliation Week. I am proud because I can do this for the incredibly strong and inspiring Aboriginal people, communities and organisations that live and prosper in Indi.

I offer my sincere thanks to all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have embraced me, guided me and taught me over the last eight months. Our journey together is only just beginning, and I hope that you will continue to teach me and the Indi community about your culture and your history, and allow us to be involved in your future.