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Anniversary of the national apology

Today is 10 years since the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, apologised to the Stolen Generations on behalf of successive Australian governments.

It was a deeply moving and comprehensive statement of regret and sorrow and acknowledged the intergenerational pain and trauma suffered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

In the Department of Education we reflect on the impact of the national apology and its significance to our colleagues in Aboriginal Affairs, our Aboriginal corporate and school staff and the Aboriginal students in our schools.

It’s worth revisiting some of the profound words of the apology:

…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…"

There have been many community events today right around Australia to recognise the courage and resilience of the Stolen Generations’ survivors and their advocacy to create lasting, positive change.

It is our responsibility to ensure we are working together with Aboriginal people to write this “new page in our history” that “embraces all Australians”.

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Mark Scott

About the Secretary

Mark Scott is Secretary of the Department of Education. He has worked as a teacher, in public administration and as a journalist and media executive. He is committed to public education and learning environments where every child can flourish.

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