Kevin Rudd seems stuck for a form of words for Wednesday’s apology to the Stolen Generation. We asked Crikey readers to give the issue of some thought. This is what some of them came up with:
Brigid Walsh writes: Saying sorry is not just about an apology but a new beginning. When the first Europeans settled here, they did not recognise – as we have difficulty recognising for ourselves today – the depth and extent of their ignorance of this land and its people. The Bringing them Home Report has confronted us with the worst of our treatment of the Aboriginal nations of this country – our treatment of their, our children. At the same time, at this point in history we are confronted in so many ways by our poor treatment of this land. So today is our sorry day. The day to say formally, humbly that we – the newcomers to this land we know as Australia – are sorry. We are sorry for what we have done. We are sorry for what we have failed to do. We want today to be a new beginning: a new beginning in our relationship with you, the people who were here for time beyond memory before the rest of us came and a new beginning in our relationship with this land. We hope you will accept our words of apology and begin the new journey with us so that together we can build a new hope, a new equity, and a sacred trust for our land.
Nicole Forster writes: We’ll say sorry, but we’re not taking off our sunglasses.
Feidhelm Mac Crimthainn writes:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Our parents stole your children, which left you with two Tampa-loads of intergenerational torment
Then we trivialised it too
Noel Matthews writes: We acknowledge that many things that were done to our Aboriginal friends and their forebears are from our current perspective wrong. At the same time we admit that many of the people who did those things meant well – but we now think they were misguided. We say sorry to all those who have been hurt by past practices and ask that they accept our apology and let us all move forward to right the things that are now wrong.
Judith Banks writes: “Sorry” is 5 letters, but the symbolism and genuine affection geared towards the reconciliation so many of us marched towards is beyond any word. I believe 36% of Australians are still not sure about apologising. What is the problem? Have our indigenous brothers retaliated against us for dreadful past mistakes? I think not. They have taken it out on themselves if anything and I for one will apologise to the end of my life for the misery some of our indigenous are experiencing. And this does not make me feel guilty, worried about compensation, just sorry.
Paddy Mullin writes: We arrived in this country some two hundred years ago, a motley, uninvited group. Now we are prosperous and happy and you, who were here first, are poor and ill and unhappy. So we are sorry. Sorry that so many of you beg in the streets of our city; that so many of you are unhappy or frustrated that you turn to crime and alcohol; sorry that you will suffer more disease and die younger than us; sorry for the desperation that makes your young men commit suicide in gaol. One of the many things we are sorry for is that we were so arrogant, superior and insensitive as to think we could find a solution for all this by taking your children away from you. And we say sorry in the hope that you will hear us, and our children we hear us.
Thomas Gregory writes: Federal Parliament: First Item of Business: Apology. The Federal Parliament would like to inform all stakeholders that, in terms of the Stolen Generation, it is sorry. At the end of the day, it has become clear to all that the strategic planning of the nation demands such an outcome. In terms of International Best Practice this has proved itself a high-value and cost-effective strategy going forward. Whilst there can be no commitment to any monetary compensation, it must be noted that this outcome will be embedded in the organisation’s core values and mission statement. The business- model of all agencies will in future be committed to ensuring that this outcome is honoured. Furthermore, the Parliament records its commitment to ensuring that the “Stolen Generation” is an outdated and superseded organisational principle, and that its kind will never again be seen in Australia.
Marlene Hodder writes: I am sorry that my adopted country has in the past treated you so badly (and continues to do so). I am sorry we disregard your history and hide the truth about the past. I am truly sorry that we don’t respect you, we don’t recognise your custodianship of this country for thousands of years, and we don’t trust you to manage your own affairs. I’m sorry our leaders don’t work with you to find ways to enhance your education and maintain your languages, your land and your culture. I’m sorry in so many ways but perhaps after 13 February 2008 we can move forward in a better way.
Michael Carroll writes: To the first Australians, the custodians of this wide brown land, I express on behalf of parliament our sorrow. Between a mix of good intentioned and ill intentioned actions, successive Australian governments have caused harm and sorrow to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The result of these actions has been the perpetuation of injustices against you, our fellow Australians, our sisters and our brothers. Recent governments have recognised these wrongs, and some have acted, but still we have failed. The result is that you do not live as long as your fellow Australians. You suffer from crime and unemployment at levels that would never be tolerated if they were experienced by all Australians. We are sorry that this situation has been allowed to continue. We are sorry that we came, uninvited, and took away your land. We are sorry that we gave you work, but took away your pay. We are sorry that we gave you money, but took away your work. We are sorry that we took away your children and gave you despair, for well intentioned as our motives may have been, the grief from those days has remained and continues. We are sorry for all the right things, done the wrong way and for all the wrong things done in the name of the government. We are sorry for dragging our heels when you asked for help and for placing bureaucracy in the way of compassion. We are sorry for acting compassionately without consulting you on how best to turn that compassion into useful actions. We are sorry that even today you die sooner than your fellow Australians, and that ‘benign neglect’ has been our most positive policy response to this. We are sorry that because of this neglect you are more likely to be victims and perpetrators of crime, your women assaulted and raped, your children abused and your young men jailed. We have known this has been happening for years and we have not done enough. It may be that we can never do enough to restore what has been lost, but perhaps, together we can build something new – an Australia that is owned by all of us, that works for all of us and for whom each one of us is willing to take responsibility. We can be the best of all nations – but we cannot be the best of all nations unless our first people take their place in the continued renewal of our nation. For this we all are responsible and for having prevented you from participating in our national life we are indeed very sorry. This has harmed us all and you most of all. We are sorry that this apology has taken 200 years to make.
Wayne Stuart writes:
It’s time for the past to be past
It’s time for a “Sorry” at last
Wrong was done it is true
Not by me or by you
Let’s start, now, to heal that hurt, vast
I am sorry for those in depression
I am sorry for worldwide aggression
I can’t wear the blame
But this I proclaim
I am sorry for your dispossession
John Goldbaum writes:
Greg Samuelson writes: To help make the issue of an apology politically easier for the Coalition, I suggest they consider the merits of issuing their own “stand alone” apology. I offer them free of charge the following draft Press Release:
We, as this great country’s Day-Before-Yesterday’s men and honorary men, in the context of our internal power plays and ongoing need of corporate donations to reclaim the Treasury Benches, have considered the issue of an apology in great depth.
After long and agonised soul searching, we have concluded that offering an apology to a single rabid special interest group would not make sense unless accompanied by a broader apology for the decade of Howardism we inflicted upon the body politic. We, the Coalition, truly apologise for all its lies, great and small, for they unwisely revealed our hatred of you, your trendy leftism espoused in myriad inner city wog cafes, your dilapidated quarter acre suburban houses and your pathetic five digit incomes.
We further apologise that Howardism reduced the sum total of what it means to be Australian to a set of mind numbing macro-economic statistics and a wistful reminiscence on the issue of Don Bradman’s batting prowess, back in the halcyon days when the glorious air of empire could still flare a white man’s nostrils. We apologise above all for the sheer banality of its evil, and would like to take this opportunity to assure you that we will do it all again to you as soon as we get the chance.
As for those coloured stone age natives that have still managed to cling on against the tide of evolution, we support an apology to them for their alleged “stolen generation” only on the strict understanding that they do not receive a single brass razoo out of it, and that, however the apology is worded, it still manage to piss on them from a great height.
Neil Herdegen writes: Hi guys! How’s this? One Republic feat. Timbaland, “It’s too late to apologize”:
I’m holding on your rope,
Got me ten feet off the ground
I’m hearin what you say but I just can’t make a sound
You tell me that you need me
Then you go and cut me down, but wait
You tell me that you’re sorry
Didn’t think I’d turn around, and say…
It’s too late to apologize, it’s too late
I said it’s too late to apologize, it’s too late
Derek Barry writes: Oops, was that continent taken?
Michael Bourke writes:
I love a sunburnt country
a land of sweeping plains
a land of native people
to whom we’ve caused such pain
I would like to say we’re sorry
for we can move on together
Sorry, sorry again
let’s revere the never never
Apologies to Dorothy.
Rowen Cross writes: Sorry. My bad…
Tim Ashdown writes: To those brave Australians afflicted by the horrific evils of a past government: Sorry about the inflation.
Daniel Lewis writes: Here is my effort. I look forward to immeasurable cash and prizes.
Tanya Cumpston writes :
I didn’t do itI wasn’t there
I didn’t want it
I would’nt dare.
(with apologies to 10cc “Good Morning Judge”)