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Sorry – one year on.

One year ago today I stood behind the Old Parliament House in Canberra to hear first hand the apology from our parliament for the stolen generations. The blogocrats logo at the top of this page is from a photo I took on that day. It was an emotionally uplifting day for me (being of aboriginal descent).

The SMH is reporting this :

A YEAR after Parliament apologised for removing indigenous children to integrate them into white society, new research has shown what many suspected – the policy had the opposite effect.

And Rudd has said this to the Koori Mail.:

Now, having crossed that bridge, the land on the other side of it is all about closing the gap,

Unless we get that right in housing, health, employment, education and early childhood initiatives, then the apology becomes a dead letter and I am not about to let that happen.

And so one year on, and what has changed?

28 Responses

  1. There were those who cautioned at the time that such grandiose symbolism risked clouding the reality. That is, the symbol – the word sorry – would become the end, rather than the means.

    Sadly, in the absence of any as yet unrevealed evidence to the contrary, those warnings have become reality.

  2. TOSY

    Except of course for the fact that the person responsible for saying sorry is highlighting the fact, which indicates that it has not become the end, although it will never be the means.

  3. Sorry, Tony, not TOSY 🙂

  4. From the National Indigenous Times (NIT)

    NT, Feb 11, 2009:

    Traditional owners of four Indigenous communities have agreed to give up control of their land for 40 years in exchange for more housing.

    40yr leases signed in four NT communities

    Almost $50 million will be given to Maningrida, $33 million for Galiwinku, $28.7 million for Gunbalanya and $48.7 million for Wadeye.

    Ms Macklin said the housing leases followed “extensive community consultation and collaboration”.

    “Decent housing is essential for protecting children, improving health, education and employment and re-building positive community norms,” she said.

    “This housing will help reduce overcrowding in communities.”

    Still waiting on Rudd’s report card:

    But Mr Rudd has again delayed another promise – a report card on Indigenous disadvantage, which was due to be delivered today.

    Mr Rudd promised to deliver a report on his government’s progress in Indigenous affairs on the first sitting day of Parliament.

    Apparently delayed…again, because of the bushfires.

  5. But Mr Rudd has again delayed another promise – a report card on Indigenous disadvantage, which was due to be delivered today.

    Speaking of report cards, what happened to Mr Rudd’s report on the 2020 Summit (due last November if I recall correctly)?

  6. I remember all the doomsayers (Howard included) forcasting that the legal flood gates would burst open as soon at the “sorry” word was uttered.

    More fear that was unfounded.

    One year on and I am pleased in that regard that they have been proved wrong.

    But one year on people are saying that the apology was shallow because nothing has happened. I ask: “What do people expect?” Having spent a number of years working in Indigenous affairs under the Howard government I can tell you that he left it a complete mess. He sent Indigenous Affairs back to the 1890s, in that he marginalised Indigenous Australians and bred contempt against them from the wider population. Under Howard, Indigenous “bashing” was good politics.

    There is much to do, and instead of blaming Rudd for not performing impossible miracles in a single year, we must point the finger of blame at the previous government for ignoring the major issues that festered under their reign.

    As an aside, it has been mentioned in various circles that the Prime Minister doesn’t mind using the F word from time to time. When in New Guinea (I think it was NG) just after the apology a dignitary from the host country said what a wonderful act he performed in apologising to the Indigenous Australians. Rudds’ response was: “They’ve been treated like effing shit for over 200 years and it’s about time something was done about it”.

    As another aside I was talking to a couple of German tourists I latched onto in Coober Pedy 5 years ago. I asked them what they knew of our Prime Minister. They said that in Germany he is only known for 2 things: being a Bush lacky, and for refusing to apologise to the Australian Aborigines.

  7. I ask: “What do people expect?” ~Miglo

    I’m not sure, but maybe you should ask the people doing the complaining – like Pat Dodson for example.

  8. I’ve been off line for the past week or so and am trying to catch up with whats happening here at Blogocrats. Tony, are you and TOSY one and the same or different people?

  9. Tony and ToSY different blogocrats.

  10. The same Dave.

  11. same??? I always thought they were different… but the emails and the IP tells me I am an ID 10 T.

  12. Tony, It sounds like Pat Dodson expected the word ‘sorry’ to magically heal all at the mere utterance of the word.

    Remember, most battles are won not in the heat and torment of the battle, but in their planning.

  13. Sorry for the confusion Joni. Thought I’d drop the South Yarra bit, but I forgot to log-in to wordpress that time, so SY came up.

  14. I expected the VRWC avatar would explain. I can go back to the full name if you wish.

  15. The reaction of us white people to the apology was ‘that wasn’t so difficult, what was all the fuss about?”

    The indigenous population would, by now, have a reaction of “what’s changed?”

    The apology was a starting point for reconciliation, not an end in itself. I think too many have seen it as an end in itself.

  16. “The apology was a starting point for reconciliation, not an end in itself. ” (Tom).

    Tom, you could have knocked me over with a feather with that wise comment. At times you amaze me.

  17. Thanks for the clarification Tony

    I thought that was the case (Avartar was a big hint 😉 ) but the different names and joni’s confusion had me confused as well.

    Dropping the OSY is probably sensible – I always though it looked/sounded a bit like tosser which I felt was pretty harsh (most of the time 😉 )

  18. Tom of Melb

    Yep, it was just a starting point but there are people out there who expect miracles to happen in a year and it all to be solved. Managing the public’s expectations hasn’t been a point of excellence for this Government. I’m not saying the the Government created this expectation, indeed they didn’t, the plan to reduce the life expectancy and literacy rates etc were over a long(ish) time frame. Unfortunately people who were so frustrated with a lack of action by the past Government have expected everting to change and things to be fixed overnight or within a 1 year time frame and the Government is being measured against these unreasonable expectations rather than what the Government has actually said. On the other side are those that were critical of the apology in the first place and now just say “i told you so” (although there does seem to be a distinct lack of legal claims from the stolen generations which was feared by most of the latter group). As some might say – tough crowd!

  19. Dave55

    Dropping the OSY is probably sensible – I always though it looked/sounded a bit like tosser which I felt was pretty harsh (most of the time )

    Yeah, it was a carry-over from the News Ltd blogs where they have two fields: name,, and of. (I found out, after months of filling in the of field, that it wasn’t required at all, but for the sake of consistency, kept using it.)

  20. D55 and Tony,

    Now we have found the real people at fault here: Rupert and Tim

    😛 hehe

  21. And bolta. 😉

  22. Yes Miglo, I do also have some interest in indigenous issues, only as a consequence of conscience, nothing to do with it professionally or actively.

    I also annoy people with my fixation on promotion of indigenous art and heritage as a means of creating pride, preservation of culture, and role models for this community.

    Too many role models for indigenous people are in the sporting arena. Artistic and cultural endeavour needs a whole lot more community support and much more government funding.

  23. Tony

    That goes without saying… and that goes for Piers too! As long as we collectively agree that it is someone elses fault.

  24. Tom, I do recall some of your earlier blogs where you’ve expressed a liking for Indigenous art, and at times, acted as a crusader for Indigenous issues.

    I understand that intellectual property is now protected in the various Federal and State heritage acts, which includes such things as art and food.

    At uni a young Asian student told me she had a weekend job in the Adelaide Hills ‘making’ Aboriginal paintings for souvenir shops. Disappointing, isn’t it?

    BTW Tom, you’re the only non-leftie that I know who has an interest in our Indigenous friends.

    Gosh you are a paradox.

  25. Migs, maybe that’s a start. I don’t know if it’s done or not but a label stating whether or not the art is genuine. I am thinking along the lines of Made in Australia. For example, some wonderful art up in Cairns however it could have been made by some white bloke with a set of paint tubes mass-producing and not going to support Aboriginal communities.

  26. Miglo, there are indigenous co-ops that sell ethically produced original and licensed art. These types of organisations also deserve more support and publicity.

    The shonky producers and retailers deserve a spot on some tacky current affairs show. Chase them down the street with cameras running.

    I’d suggest that it is vastly preferable to purchase art through the indigenous co-op, you’ll know that the money you spend is going where it is intended.

  27. Miglo at 12.47, so I guess I’m a leftie now?

  28. Miglo at 12.47, so I guess I’m a leftie now?

    A slightly left of centre shift will be accepted. Don’t come too close though.

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