This month is the anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations (13 February 2008). It is a day to celebrate the Apology, but also to commemorate and learn from the past.
On the 13th of February 2008 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered a national apology to Australia’s Stolen Generations, those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had been removed as children from their families and their culture. An important first step in acknowledgement, recognition and accepting the Governments role in the atrocities that occurred.
“We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians. We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.” – Kevin Rudd 2008.
Impacts of invasion, colonisation and successive Government policies are written in our books Black Cockatoo, My Deadly Boots and Tracks of the Missing. The impacts of the Stolen Generation and other policies are in our lived experience even today- this isn’t just about the past. So today we think about those who were impacted by Stolen Generations- the children, the families, their families into the future- including my grandmother.
It should be noted that First Nations children are entering out of home care at a higher rate now than in the Stolen Generations- so First Nations children and families are still impacted by the intergenerational and systemic issues that existed in the past. We have taken many steps forward, a few to the side and many steps back. We have work that we can all do to raise awareness, put pressure on our politicians, and listen and follow First Nations peoples’ paths forward.
First Nations young people are entering the Justice system at disproportionate rates, including in youth detention systems like Don Dale that have had significant news coverage for their human rights abuses. Children as young as 10 are in youth detention.
The reasons behind removal or detention of First Nations children can be complex. The towns and communities impacted by youth crime have been vocal in their concerns. The teachers, youth workers and health workers working with young people in unsafe care have concerns. We do not deny the significant issues that can be present for young people- and result in their removal or detention. But it is the funding, prevention, support, system, rehabilitation that need reform and transformation. If the facts show higher rates and disproportionate rates of First Nations young people being removed or detained- then the system is not working. A Voice to Parliament, active listening to First Nations peoples on the ground,
The National Apology to the Stolen Generation anniversary is never more important to raise awareness of than NOW.
Learn more about the Stolen Generation:
Things to do with young people:
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