WHAT TO SAY…

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Full text of apology to indigenous   Australians

on the occasion of the first sitting of   Parliament, Canberra, A.C.T.

February 12, 2008 – 4:40PM

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.

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