February 13 2018 marked 10 years since Kevin Rudd's historic apology to the Stolen Generations. Some of our IPS staff shared their thoughts and memories on the day of this moment, and how things stand ten years on.
Susan Lee: "10 years ago I was leaving Port Augusta where I was working as Regional Tourism Manager for Flinders Ranges & Outback SA and in transition - again! I had ended a job, a relationship and left my home all at once. The triple whammy.
I was getting ready to start a new life back in Adelaide to embark on my MBA and become a Business Consultant in training, and I was committed to turn the ship of my life around into a new direction. So it was a big year personally.
I never thought much of Rudd, I think he's a bit pompous, but the Apology was just unforgettable and I wondered why it took so long for someone in power to do this?
It's the things hidden in plain sight that when someone finally calls it, gives massive relief to those who have seen it for a long time, indeed lived with injustice and pain like our first Australians. I had worked in Central Australia for 4 years and seen a lot of stuff up there that I know a lot of people never heard about sitting in cities. I remember seeing the Apology on TV, all the Aboriginal faces in Parliament, the amazing coat (possum?) worn by the elder who opened the ceremony and it seemed so different ... and finally parliament got waaay more interesting. It was profound in simplicity and power. Watching the people on Parliament lawns faces breaking open in tears, releasing like rain. It was a place of pure emotion, not just words. It was contagious . It was amazing, just for awhile to go to a place without victims and perpetrators, just of people trying to recalibrate and reset. The Apology never replaced the work, but it shone a light and made people stop and think about their involvement in this national issue - as a culture, community, society. When you hurt someone else, you hurt yourself, and it really is as simple as that. Nelson Mandela got it."
Scott Anderson: "Wow 10 years that time has flown by!!!
I recall the day like it was yesterday. I was working as the General Manager of the Townsville A&TSI Cultural Centre. We were broadcasting the event live from the Centre and we had a lot of the local A&TSI community in attendance.
There was a sense of anticipation about the event and I recall not really understanding the significance of what was about to happen although I was acutely aware of the need for it to happen.
Needless to say when those word were spoken "Sorry" a combination of cheers, jeers and tears all exploded into the atmosphere all at once. I cried and cried. I didn't have to go through the attrocities like my elders had to, but I cried and cried like the words were spoken directly to me. I feel a sense of acceptance on behalf of my elders and I felt their spirits around about me. It felt like my spirits were lifted and set free and that a feeling of oppression had been lifted off our country. I looked around the room and watched as many of our elders stood (if they could) and cried openly as a gesture that was so simple, yet so profound. I recall reflecting on that day for weeks, months and years afterwards and I would continue to be filled with a sense of pride and tears would flow again. The memory of that day would take my breath away as I struggled to hold back the emotion. It was such a special moment in our history. As I type these words today my spirit is again filled with a lofty sense of gratitude but also a sense of deep sorrow and remorse when I think about what my elders had to endure in this country. I cannot fathom nor understand what our old people went through but I'm so grateful for their fight and struggle.
Today is a day to reflect again and to continue to push for recognition and an equality for my people which still needs to be addressed. I know many of our community members are still angered by the past, I try to look for the opportunities so that the struggles of the past are not in vain. Today I celebrate the healing of a terrible spiritual and emotional rift within our country. I salute Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for what he did on that day and for standing in the gap for all Australians."
Kristal Kinsela: "I was sitting in the conference room on level 20 at 477 Pitt Sydney, where I worked at the Dept of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. They had the event streaming live on the big screen. I sat with my back against everyone, and my eyes were fixed on the screen. When I heard those words ‘Sorry’, I was so overwhelmed. Tears flowed and I felt a sense of joy, that we were finally having the acknowledgement that was needed to help those who needed to heal. I can’t believe we are 10 yrs on, some things have changed, and some have not. I didn’t think we would still be talking about disadvantage the way we do today like we did 10 yrs ago. Obviously, there have been improvements in Education with more young people completing yr 12 and more Aboriginal children attending preschool. I think the biggest impact of any Govt policy has been the IPP, and I truly believe that economic development and the growth of the Indigenous business sector is an enabler to help close the gap and have a positive effect on all areas of life, health, wellbeing, education, employment and housing."