THE AUSTRALIAN Federal Parliament’s formal statement of apology, issued on 13 February to the Aboriginal “stolen generations”, marked a “profound day in the life of the nation”, said the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier.
The General Synod Public Affairs Commission said the apology was a significant first step in the journey towards reconciliation. Canon Dr Ray Cleary, who chaired the commission, said he hoped that the statement would “serve as a promise to improve the health, education, and life chances of indigenous Australians”.
Between 1910 and the 1970s, tens of thousands of mainly mixed-race children were taken from their families in an attempt to assimilate them into mainstream white Australia. The apology was the first item on the agenda of the new Labor government, led by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The previous day, the formalities for the opening of Parliament commenced with a traditional Aboriginal “welcome to country” ceremony, the first ever held in the Federal Parliament.