Sixteen years on from Kevin Rudd’s historic apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples, ANDY HAMILTON SJ argues words can’t be unsaid, but can be disregarded – reminding us of the importance of respect and restoration.
This year, all aspects of the relationship between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians will be seen through the lens of the failure of the Referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament. This include such historical events as the Apology made by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the Stolen Generations on 13 February 2008. This invites us to build again on the rock on which it was constructed.
The Apology was significant because it embodied respect. It also acknowledged a moral code governing the relationships between the representatives of government and persons of any origin and descent. Both parties to the Apology acknowledged that this code had been violated when children were taken from their families. The Apology, too, implied, a pledge that respect would govern future relationships based on the common and equal humanity shared by both parties.