A decade on, the National Apology to the Stolen Generations remains a momentous turning point that demonstrates the importance of historical acceptance in paving the road to reconciliation.
On February 13, it was 10 years since then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally acknowledged the immense suffering experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people due to past government policies of forced child removal.
Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine said the Apology was incredibly meaningful to First Nations people, demonstrating the importance of historical acceptance in building a respectful new relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Historical acceptance is one of five interrelated dimensions that together represent a holistic and comprehensive picture of reconciliation, as outlined in Reconciliation Australia’s landmark State of Reconciliation in Australia report.
“One thing the Apology made abundantly clear is that understanding and acknowledging past wrongs and their continuing impact is crucial to building stronger relationships, which are at the heart of reconciliation,” Ms Mundine said.
“The Apology was a significant step towards healing the wounds of the past by acknowledging the suffering and loss experienced by the Stolen Generations and the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
“The simple act of the Apology showed us how we could face some of the ugly truths of our past to allow us to move forward together.” On Tuesday the City of Ballarat held a formal event to acknowledge the 10th anniversary of the Federal Apology.
In front of a large crowd Uncle Murray Harrison recalled his past as a child of the stolen generation.
There were tears not only from him and his wife, Norma, but also a number of the audience.
He spoke not only of his childhood but the affects of being a part of the stolen generation had on his adult life, which was underlined by his love for Norma.
“The loss from that time was so much,” he said.
When he was ten years old Murray and his two sisters were taken. He ended up in Turana in Melbourne, a place where children were bashed and raped.
“We got there at midnight, the guard looked at me and he told me ‘get in there you little black bastard, we’ll deal with you in the morning’,” he recalled.
Sadly Uncle Murray Harrison’s story is not a oneoff.
The mood in the room was lightened when a birthday cake was brought out to Uncle Murray who had celebrated his 80th birthday last week.
The evening was capped off with songs from Isaiah Firebrace, the Winner of The X Factor Australia 2016 and a competitor in last year’s Eurovision contest.