Eleven years ago Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s official Parliamentary apology to the Stolen Generations of Indigenous Australians acknowledged our nation’s history and the profound pain, suffering, grief and indignity that was inflicted.
Today, the future and legacy he so strongly articulated – for our Parliament and all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to work together to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity, remains our biggest challenge.
What legacy will our generation leave behind? This is a sombre question, but in 2019 this date marks one of the most solemn anniversaries in Australia’s history.
Frank Byrne’s Living in Hope is an incredibly moving story of a boy, Goodarrie, taken away from his mother and family when he was just six years old. That was forever. He had no say in it. His family had no say in it. As Bruce Pascoe writes, Goodarrie’s story is an incredible testament to survival and ‘the toughness and determination of our people’.
In Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia (edited by Anita Heiss) Doreen Nelson talks about the importance of story, and for elders to write about their experiences and how they have come to terms with the past. As she says, by ‘recording our stories we leave behind a rich and important legacy for future generations’.
May our stories reflect a legacy of hope and reconciliation.