Tuesday, 12 February 2008

A moment to draw breath and say sorry.

Below is the wording of federal Parliament's full apology to the Stolen Generations:

"Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

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.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia."

So tomorrow is the day when the government of Australia apologises to the stolen generation.It is indeed a significant moment and at times it reminds me of the day we watched man walk on the moon as our classes are being taken to watch it live. Hopefully in the same way we saw the world shift slightly on its axis that day, tomorrow will signify a shift for the way we see ourselves as a community in this country.Certainly it is a powerful signal of generational shift and hopefully the start of healing, but this is a slow process, like all change.
Trying to bring some focus on this to my year 8 class we looked at Dorothea McKellar's My Country and Oscar Krahnvohl's parody in class today and I asked the students after a significant and very thoughtful discussion to write their own version for publication in class and on their blogs. Hopefully next week they will have some up and published - it certainly had them thinking and talking about a huge number of concerns and positives for their country and this important time.
On a lesser note tomorrow I am also doing a brief overview on blogging to three groups in a rotational workshop at school. Hope it works!

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