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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 532 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

When we talk about National Sorry Day, it has an implication for the inclusion of indigenous peoples as just one of us. We talk long and with a lot of emotion about multiculturalism, bringing the European cultures in and bringing the Asian cultures in. We forget that we have a non-European culture in our midst, and we do not do enough about it. We pay lip-service to it. There is no emotional commitment to it. National Sorry Day goes a little way towards creating that emotional commitment.

Mr Speaker, the stolen children story is a story of blatant kidnapping. It is to be regarded with outrage, shame and sorrow that it is in our history. Now we can acknowledge that and make genuine expressions of regret and contrition.

MR RUGENDYKE (10.54): I would also like to express my endorsement of the inaugural Sorry Day. I think it is an important step for our society to recognise the errors of our past ways in relation to the indigenous community and particularly the stolen generation. I believe that it is a sign of our society's maturity that we can say sorry. We must acknowledge that the stolen generation was treated wrongly and poorly. Sorry Day does exactly this. It recognises past discrimination, but at the same time it is a point in time which allows us to move on and help our efforts to promote reconciliation.

Mr Speaker, my experience with the indigenous community is an important one. I have friends in that community, people such as Mr Johnny Huckle, a fine Koori musician. I recall a time when I was at a community radio station for a particular event and Mr Huckle was also there. He sang a particularly emotional song about his grandmother and his mother and how they were treated by the society of the time. That remains a particularly emotional and interesting experience for me.

I also applaud the work of organisations such as the Gugan Gulwan Youth Centre and people such as Kim Davison and people such as Julie Tong at the Woden Valley Hospital. They are always willing to help the Aboriginal community and to assist the white community in the process of reconciliation. I have also had contact with the Aboriginal community through foster care, learning the concept of kinship as it applies to the care of children within the Aboriginal community. I believe that from kinship white Australians can learn about the way children could be and need to be cared for.

I mention those experiences of mine because I believe that they assist in the process of reconciliation, which is the bottom line in what we are doing here today. Apart from apologising to the Aboriginal community, we are always looking for ways to advance the process of reconciliation.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (10.57): Mr Speaker, I also wish to associate myself with this motion and to participate in a process of reconciliation in which this Assembly can play a part in the ACT community. I think that the important element of any Sorry Day needs to be not necessarily the activities undertaken by governments, or even parliaments, but rather the activities that percolate up from the ordinary members of our community, such activities which help to change the hearts and minds of people whose actions historically in this country, we have to concede, have certainly had strong racist overtones. That process is the most important part of any exercise in bringing Australians to a genuine reconciliation with our indigenous brothers and sisters.

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