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Anniversary of apology to Stolen Generations

As we approach the first anniversary of the apology to the Stolen Generations, the Institute’s Specific Issues Committee, Indigenous Concerns invites readers to take time for reflection.

What follows is an excerpt from Prime Minister Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations on February 13, 2008.

I move
That 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 the fathers, the brothers and the 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.
We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.
A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
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 failed.
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, Australia…

Download the full text of Prime Minister Rudd’s speech here.


  • What do you consider has been the impact of the apology during the past 12 months?
  • How has the apology caused you to reflect on what the removal of children means for their families?
  • What action have you taken since the apology to gain a greater understanding of the complexity of the issues?
  • How have these actions deepened your personal insight and response to Indigenous people?
  • What further steps need to be taken to foster a greater understanding and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians?

The following reflection is courtesy of the Edmund Rice CentreDOWNLOAD THE REFLECTION AS A PDF DOCUMENT.

The reflection draws on Prime Minister Rudd’s Apology, as well as Prime Minister Paul Keating’s 1992 Speech at Redfern to launch the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People. View Paul Keating’s speech here. (YouTube)

From: Institute Specific Issues Committee, Indigenous Concerns (Sisters Rose Glennen, Anne McGuire and Daphne McKeough). The Committee warmly invites your response to the article or the issue.

Contact: Carmel Heagerty RSM, Institute Justice Co-ordinator