On 13 February 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stood before the house of representatives and the rest of the country, and publicly apologised on behalf of the Federal Government to the Stolen Generations.
The Stolen Generations refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities as children by the colonial and Australian governments.
Sorry Day and the anniversary of the National Apology - what’s the difference?
National Sorry Day (also known as the National Day of Healing), is an annual event that has been held in Australia on 26 May since 1998 to remember and commemorate the mistreatment of the country's Indigenous peoples.
The first Sorry Day took place one year after the tabling of The Bringing Them Home Report in Parliament. Having a day of commemoration was actually one of the recommendations within the report. Among its many other recommendations was one that the Prime Minister John Howard apologise to the Stolen Generations. He refused to do so, however one year later, the first National Sorry Day was held.
Another year forward, on the 26 August 1999, Mr. Howard moved a Motion of Reconciliation, which included an expression of "deep and sincere regret that Indigenous Australians suffered injustices under the practices of past generations, and for the hurt and trauma that many Indigenous people continue to feel as a consequence of those practices.”
In his own words
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s words years later in 2008 moved far beyond those of his predecessor, both in its nature and delivery. Mr. Rudd’s most famous speech during his time in office, the apology speech, had a few small contributions from others, but was largely written by himself.
Although the vast majority of the former PM’s other public addresses where written for him, this one he chose to wrote almost completely on his own, indicating to many that Mr. Rudd had some personal feelings on the topic that he wanted to share.
Later that year, the Rudd government also adopted the goals of a campaign following the lead of NGOs and human rights organisations working together to achieve equality in health, which became a national strategy known as Close the Gap.
So what impact has it made?
How have things changed since Kevin Rudd's speech thirteen years ago? Has anything improved? Here is a great article by proud Wiradjuri man and former NRL player Joe Williams who shares his insight on the topic.