the apology

we’ve a big moment happening in australia tomorrow. i love the conversation that this is creating in the community. i love that so many people are saying how liberating it feels to be making an apology, about how the air feels cleaner, and stuff seems possible, that there’s a weight coming off our collective shoulders. these are ordinary people saying this, not just newspaper columnists.

i think it has the potential to be one of the moments that changes our identity as a country. i keep thinking of it as a sacramental moment, and it’s not so often that a country has those.

This is the text of the apology…

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

The stories behind the apology are heartbreaking, and the pain with which they are held won’t end tomorrow. an apology seems so small in the light of the reality of those whose lives have been shattered – it’s hard to imagine what could heal a rupture which is that deep. an apology is the only possible beginning, though, and the unexpected side effect of it is already coming to light: it’s transforming the guilt and shame that is part of the ground on which this country was built, and it’s liberating those of us who walk on that every day.


  1. mike

    Every time I read this, and this time it was a link from Jonny’s site, the impact of the moment on me is palpable. I can only imagine how bloody important it is for those to whom the apology is directed. Its not the “feel-good panacea for the latte-set” that detractors have named it. Theres too much of a mix of strong and conflicting feelings to call it “feel-good”. It was like the moment when you properly hear someone, and see things totally and clearly from their point of view…

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