I am really looking forward to Wednesday morning when a truly historical event will take place in our nation. I am 100% in support of the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations which will be his first act in the first parliamentary sitting of the new government.
One of the reasons I voted for Labor last year was because of their committment to make the apology that John Howard had so resisted. Neither I nor the current govt are directly responsible for the wrongs that were committed but I believe as an Australian, enjoying all the benefits of living in this country I must also share the responsibilities of citizenship and for me that means acknowledging the terrible crimes that were committed in the forcible removal of approximately 100,000 Aboriginal children from their families over nearly 100 years of Australian history, and the dreadful cruelty and inhumane treatment that many of them were subjected to once removed.
I have been a supporter of the need for a national apology for a long time, even if it does mean compensation payments, we are a wealthy nation and can certainly afford to compensate people who have suffered so unjustly.
I have been lobbying and negotiating at work for some sort of acknowledgement of the event to be held at the school and working with a couple of other staff to organise a suitable event.
As part of that preparation I was given a copy of the book, The Stolen Generation: Their Stories, by Carmel Bird and spent a good part of today reading it. I was deeply moved by the personal accounts of both children and parents who suffered the injustice of removal from their homes and separation from their families. Many victims, removed at ages 4 and 5 never saw their parents again! Many were abused, physically, sexually, psychologically and racially. Their suffering at times is almost beyond belief.
The accounts are contained in the "Bring Them Home" Report written by the judicial inquiry into the Stolen Generation from which came the recommendation that all Australian Parliaments, state and federal, offer an apology to the victims.
Millicent's story (in the book) is particularly harrowing, recounting not only her own separation from her mother but the subsequent removal of her own baby immediately after her birth in 1962 (the year after I was born).
I thoroughly recommend the book as a place to start your own exploration of the topic which I know is controversial and sees many Australians divided.
A web search also led me to another account of a victim but with a very different outcome, an Aboriginal elder, Geoff Guest, a truly remarkable story of survival, ingenuity and adventure. You can check it out on Laceweb at this link: Geoff Guest's story
Tonight I talked to our 4 kids about the Apology and read them Millicent's story then we prayed for our country.
I believe Wednesday will be a significant and symbolic step forward for this nation and I hope that Aboriginal people will experience some sense of peace and closure for the harm they've endured and that both black and white Australians can move forward on the next steps toward true reconciliation.