A momentous occasion for all Australians
By Russell Eldridge, Editor
TODAY’S national apology for the Stolen Generations of indigenous Australians is a powerful moment in our history and should be viewed as a positive act from which the nation can move forward.
It is probably the most significant symbolic act in more than 200 years of settlement, ranking alongside the more practical deeds of the 1967%Referendum and the Mabo decision.
It is sad that so many Australians still resist the idea of a national apology. That resistance most likely stems from a narrow view of what the apology means.
This is not about personal or collective guilt for past wrongs.
It’s about acknowledgement.
And if there is one thing indigenous Australians have been craving for decades, it is acknowledgement.
For in truth, today’s act, whether we like it or not, resonates far deeper than an apology for the Stolen Generations.
Talk to any indigenous Australian and their greatest sorrow and resentment is the fact that the rest of Australia has never officially validated their status as the primary settlers of this land.
The removal of indigenous children from their families was just one deeply painful episode in two centuries of dispossession and neglect.
For that reason, we need to see today’s act as part of a broader move towards reconciliation.
It is important to recognise also that an apology for the Stolen Generations is not a direct conduit to financial compensation. Nor does it exempt indigenous people from taking the same responsibility for improving their lives that all Australians have to take.
Financial compensation is lawyer-talk. No multi-billion-dollar handout is going to address past wrongs or fix current and future problems.
The best compensation for indigenous Australia is an unwavering commitment from governments, organisations and individuals to implement programs to improve health, education, social conditions, justice and employment.
Today’s bipartisan national day of apology can turn%sorrow into rejoicing if we commit our hearts and minds to uniting this country.