It’s not often you get to give bear hugs to the wife of the Prime Minister, but Therese Rein must have been black and blue yesterday, receiving the thanks of indigenous elders at the launch of a book about the Stolen Generations.

Hundreds of people turned up in the pouring rain to the Redfern Community Centre, inside the infamous Block, to hear Ms Rein and Bill Simon launch his book, Back on the Block.

Bill lived at the Kinchela Boys Home in regional NSW for eight years after he and his two brothers, David and Murray, were ripped out of his mothers arms in 1957, when he was only 10 years old. At the launch, he read from the scene describing the day the police came to take them away, bringing the audience to tears.

Ms Rein described the book as searing and very hard to read.

“He reflects at the beginning just how hard it was to tell this story and have it recorded. Bill’s story is one that must be told and retold so that we don’t forget.”

The boys’ treatment was “distressing, disturbing, frightening, unjust and enraging. The shock, the bewilderment and the terror of the children, of the babies, is palpable,” she continued, her voice quavering.

“The helplessness of his mum as the children were taken away is just appalling. It makes my heart weep and I’m sure it made her heart weep.”

However, the book also contains “a message of hope, reconciliation and redemption” as Bill reached a turning point in his life, she said.

Bill Simon spoke eloquently about his life, saying that “my story is for the brothers and sisters of the stolen generation to help them heal and (for non-indigenous people) to help them understand their own history. Thank God for the blessings on my life, and thank you Therese for making this a deadly launch!”

Although Ms Rein’s pre-Kiliminjaro fitness program is strictly off-limits to the fourth estate, Crikey can exclusively reveal that she looked fantastic in a black top and skirt, set off with rather foxy black suede boots.

At the end, the local indigenous a cappella group Mirror Child sang a song about the day of the apology to the Stolen Generation. It started with the line “Thank God for Prime Minister Rudd” with a chorus of “Moving Forward”, sung about twenty times, which made me think they were a dead cert for the PM’s Christmas party this year. Rousing a cappella choruses of “working families” and “education revolution” would probably go down a treat, followed up with a sing-along “shake of the sauce bottle.”

I hung around trying to interview Ms Rein at the end, but she was involved in a sort of all-in scrum of thanks and reconciliation that had a minder hovering nearby to ensure no actual bones were broken. “Gee, you wouldn’t see Janette Howard doing that, would you?” one observer noted; on that uncharitable note, we departed. Moving Forward.