Today (February 13) marks the 15th anniversary of the formal apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples made by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Whilst this day was a momentous turning point in paving the road to reconciliation, it is important to recognise that structural inequalities and injustices still exist, and we as a country have a significant amount of work to do in our collective reconciliation journey. IPS Co-CEO and Worora & Walmajarri woman Katina Law and IPS Executive Director and Nyiyaparli/Yindjibarndi woman Jahna Cedar OAM Cedar share with us their reflections on what this apology signified fifteen years ago, and the progress that is yet to be made in Australia's reconciliation journey.
“When I listened to the apology from Kevin Rudd thirteen years ago, I didn’t expect to be moved, but I was. For all members and descendants of the Stolen Generation, there is a deep sense of loss and hurt that is often hidden. Hearing this acknowledgement and apology brought out many deeply buried emotions, but it was also the start of a process of healing which continues today.” – Katina Law, IPS Co-CEO & Executive Director
“The apology was a momentous occasion in history, as it was the first time our Government had acknowledged past injustices, pain and trauma inflicted upon and felt by our First Nations people. However, today's statistics show that very little change has occurred. There is systemic racism, our children are ten times more like to be living away from their families than non-Aboriginal children, and we have the highest rates of imprisonment, yet make up only 3% of the Australian population. Our communities are facing suicide pandemics, our women have been identified as the most legally disadvantaged group in Australia, and our families urgently need generational healing from trauma. Whilst we are not personally responsible for past practices in history, we have a responsibility to heal the impacts, simply because it is the right thing to do. We need to walk the talk, change the narrative, and proactively work together to bring about sustainable change and healing.” – Jahna Cedar, IPS Executive Director
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