On 13 February 2008, the Australian Parliament made a formal apology to Australia's Indigenous peoples acknowledging past policies that harmed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities.
The journey to the national apology began with the findings of an inquiry into the Stolen Generations instigated by the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1995. The findings are known as the ‘Bringing them Home’ report.
“For many Australians the Apology was an admission of the government's responsibility for the trauma, loss and separation from family, community, culture and land that the Stolen Generations experienced, and which continues to affect many families,” said University of Sydney Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) Professor Shane Houston.
“The Parliament sought the opportunity for a future where the injustices of the past would not be repeated, where the determination of all Australians to close the gap was harnessed, and where new thinking, new conversations, and new solutions to enduring problems would emerge.
“As the 2016 Australian Reconciliation Barometer demonstrates, the majority of Australians recognise that past racial policies are a significant contributor to today’s Indigenous disadvantage.”
Professor Houston said his thoughts were with colleagues, and their families, who were directly impacted by past policies and practices.
“Today offers the opportunity to reflect on the pain of the past and provides cause for hope for the future of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people,” Professor Houston said.
The University of Sydney is recognising National Apology Day by flying the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander flags from the Quadrangle clock tower.
“This is a public signal of the value we place on reflection, on the potential of new thinking and on our commitment to a sustained contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education,” said Professor Houston.
“We take seriously our responsibilities to foster, support and carry these aspirations.
“Our Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu strategy outlines our efforts to contribute to the future that the national Parliament embraced: 'a future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this country'.”
Read the transcript of the National Apology.
Read the ‘Bringing them Home’ report.
Read about the Australian Reconciliation Barometer.