Feb 12, 2018

Ten years on, the promise of the Apology is a lie

Kevin Rudd's National Apology was meant to be a turning point in Australia's treatment of Indigenous Australians, but after a decade we've learnt that it was anything but.

Celeste Liddle

Freelance writer

Ten years ago, I gathered with many people from the local Indigenous community to view a live broadcast of the Apology at the Aborigines Advancement League. There was a lot of sorrow in the room but it was tempered by hope -- the feeling that finally, after so long, a government had decided to do the right thing and work towards rectifying wrongs.

Kevin Rudd’s impassioned and beautifully constructed speech was warmly received from the crowd, with cheers, but also tears. In contrast, then-opposition leader Brendan Nelson’s speech got loudly jeered due to his indignant refrain that there would be “no compensation”. Jeered, that was, until someone muted him and the crowd went back to processing the historic moment that had just happened after nearly a decade of refusal under John Howard’s rule.

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13 thoughts on “Ten years on, the promise of the Apology is a lie

  1. Desmond Graham

    Australia must be the only country with a thriving Aboriginal industry. It is a growth industry and should be counted in the GDP stats.

    1. old greybearded one

      Kindly do some research and meet a few Aboriginals.

    2. Rais

      That’s a remark that says a lot about the writer and nothing about the descendants of this country’s original owners.

    3. Draco Houston

      There is not a single part of your post that does not make you look really stupid.

    4. bref

      WOW. You sound like the liberal front bench!

  2. old greybearded one

    Celeste I work pretty close to the pointy end as a teacher in a school with slightly more than half Aboriginal students. I am from the actual town and knew plenty of people who were good folks, but had many obstacles. It is worth noting that local balckfella, whitefella stuff is good, but not so much with those from away. I would love to see every indigenous kid at home, but that is impossible here. We have some highly dysfunctional families, many of whom have moved here because they are near relative in the jail down the road. Due to drugs and other issues some families are just not safe for kids, and there are not kinship ( believe me I know) fostering opportunities available. We have put many support services in place centred on our school community. Alas the crime rate is quite high and we will do nothing about incarceration rates in the long run, unless we can lower the crime rate. A lot of this would not be hard if we were one mob, but the ones from away have no elder contacts in this country. While the kids are locked up, they are often locked up for doing something wrong. It is the early stage of redirection that we need, so they don’t get arrested in the first place. I would also love to see more Aboriginal role models who are not footballers, but artists and musicians. I know a lot of great little kids who often just need a leg up, but their home life scares me. I do not have a fix, I just know that many of the problems such as incarceration or removal are based on events which really are a danger to children or society. I also know a lot of people both white and black who are busting their gut to find solutions at least at school level. While almost all the Stolen Generation removals were unjustifiable evil, I don’t think that happens where I live very often, services are very slow to remove children here. I also know that I despise the present government for their curent actions in these areas.

    1. Woopwoop

      Thanks for this interesting contribution from someone with real experience. It’s obviously not an easy problem to solve.

  3. zut alors

    Excluding Rudd’s sincere & heartfelt apology, have these apology events since morphed into political opportunities for Prime Ministers?

    Turnbull is planning one for the victims of institutional sexual abuse despite being a member of a Coalition which resisted a Royal Commission despite victims bravely coming forward during the Howard/Abbott years. Gillard had the humanity to announce the Royal Commission – ironic really, as she was criticised for being ‘barren’ & likely indifferent to the best interests of children.

    Unfortunately, Celeste, Aboriginal communities will suffer until a truly benevolent PM is elected, one who prioritises social policies. The current one hasn’t a clue.

  4. Draco Houston

    “Words are easy, words are cheap
    Much cheaper than our priceless land
    But promises can disappear
    Just like writing in the sand”

  5. bref

    It never ends. In the 90s, the Bringing Them Home report; in the 2000s, the Sacred Children report and the ‘apology’. More reports and a royal commission since then.
    Just recently an aboriginal appeal to have an official group advising parliament, rejected out of hand by Turnbull. The hardship statistics have hardly shifted in many decades and I frankly have no idea where our indigenous neighbours will turn now. Historically, unfortunately, most indigenous groups in other parts of the world have had to resort to violence to finally get their voices heard. I hope we can somehow avoid that, but our political leaders (both parties) are so apathetic and pathetic, who knows.

  6. AR

    It cannot be denied that the vast majority of the money allegedly allocated and spent on “the Problem’ has been pissed away on consultants, whiteboards, butchers’ paper workshops and the white wanker brigade.

  7. IanG

    How Aboriginal people have been resilient in the face of concerted attempts by generations of white Australians to exterminate them, have them die out, become ‘integrated’, or ‘assimilated’ is amazing and hard to fathom. Thanks Celeste. Sorry, but I think the fight has to continue and continue, and as OGO alerts us it is a long term effort.

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