'Sorry' not the final word
However, on the first National Sorry Day since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's formal apology to Australia's indigenous people, the word sorry was referred to as 'just the beginning' by indigenous lawyer and lecturer at Southern Cross University's Gnibi College, Dr Loretta Kelly. "The apology is unfinished business," she said.
"Rudd needs to put his money where his mouth is and compensate those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were unjustly removed from their families."
Dr Kelly made the National Sorry Day keynote speech at SCU yesterday.
While she praised Mr Rudd for being pro-active in issuing the apology, Dr Kelly said a lot of changes were still needed in reconciling indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
"There needs to be a reform to the Constitution in order to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first in Australia," she said.
Dr Kelly was disappointed that some people had deemed the apology irrelevant because removal of children was not happening now.
"Life is about the past, present and future, it is all part of our community and our journey - so whatever happened in the past impacts on the present," she said.
SCU also hosted a Talking Circle last week to mark National Healing Day, which gave people the opportunity to share their thoughts.
Lecturer at Gnibi College Marchelle Townsend-Cross attended the event and said the words of one member of the stolen generation who spoke summed up the feeling of the local Aboriginal community.
"She said her heart enabled her to forgive, but that she will never forget because to do that would risk the whole thing happening again," she said.