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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 February 2018) . . Page.. 29 ..


Ten years on from the national apology it is important to pause and reflect on this significant moment in our history. I and the Greens acknowledge that intergenerational trauma continues to affect many Indigenous communities across the nation, including here in the ACT. While the words of the apology were powerful and important, there is much justice and healing yet to be done.

Looking back on the policies that led to the creation of the stolen generations is a profoundly disturbing and uncomfortable process. As Prime Minister Rudd noted on 13 February 2008, the facts are that, between 1910 and 1970, between 10 and 30 per cent of Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their mothers and fathers; that, as a result, up to 50,000 children were forcibly taken from their families; that this was the product of the deliberate, calculated policies of the state as reflected in the explicit powers given to them under statute; that this policy was taken to such extremes by some in administrative authority that the forced extractions of children of so-called mixed lineage were seen as part of a broader policy of dealing with what was referred to as the problem of the Aboriginal population.

Today I take this opportunity to acknowledge these facts as a reminder of the dark parts of our history. It is my hope that through moments of truth telling like the apology we can find healing and start to walk forward together. We cannot heal the wounds of the past by ignoring the true history of this country.

Unfortunately these are not just problems of the past. We must also acknowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our community continue to face many issues of disadvantage, including many in Canberra. This disadvantage is associated with both historical and contemporary racism, colonisation and oppression, including policies such as the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities.

As was highlighted in the Uluru statement from the heart, Indigenous Australians are the most incarcerated people in the world and here in the ACT we continue to see unacceptably high rates of Indigenous incarceration in the AMC. Even today we continue to have high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people removed from their families and too many Indigenous young people in detention. The health and life expectancy gaps, which we have been talking about closing for so many years, remain. It is clear that we still have a long way to go.

Just this week the Prime Minister released the 2017 edition of the Closing the gap report. While this year there were some improvements, only three of the seven Closing the gap targets are on track to be met by 2030. In fact, the AIHW report from 2017 found that the mortality and life expectancy gaps are actually widening due to the accelerating non-Indigenous population gains in these areas.

So while it is clear that there is much still to be done, I take this opportunity to recognise the injustices of the past and to again say sorry. Today we come together and reaffirm our apology to the stolen generations for the hurt, the pain and the suffering that was caused by the laws and the parliaments of this country.


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