The Apology four years on: what is still to be done?
The 2008 National Apology to the Stolen Generations was a great achievement, but also showed how much work is still to be done say three noted writers on issues affecting Indigenous people.
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has issued the essays to mark the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations (Monday 13 February). The paper’s title is Take Off Your Shoes, Walk on the Ground: The journey towards reconciliation in Australia (Catholic Social Justice Series No. 71).
The three authors are Professor Lyn Henderson-Yates, Deputy Vice-Chancellor on the Broome Campus of Notre Dame University Australia; Fr Brian McCoy SJ, Senior Research Fellow in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health at La Trobe University; and Melissa Brickell, long-time member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council.
Indigenous academic Lyn Henderson-Yates describes the Apology as 'our finest hour', but reminds us that it has to go beyond politics and be claimed by all Australians.
"We need to heal the hearts and minds of all Australians so that we can enter a new phase of respect and shared understandings," Professor Henderson-Yates said.
"Not to do so means we will continue to practice our divisions…and we will continue to have groups of people living lives of trauma, poverty and sorrow. Can we live with that?"
Fr Brian McCoy SJ cites a phrase used by Aboriginal desert people.
"It is translated simply as: let us be strong together. Let us be strong in listening to our past and finding common paths that we can share together," Fr McCoy said.
Melissa Brickell says that the Apology was never expected to resolve all the problems faced by that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
"But the full effect of the Apology is still to be experienced," she said."So the pressure still exists by the people for a government to fully realise justice for Stolen Generations peoples."
Take Off Your Shoes, Walk on the Ground: The journey towards reconciliation in Australia (Catholic Social Justice Series No. 71) is available for $6.60 plus postage from:
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council
24–32 O’Riordan St
Ph: 02 8306 3499
Fx: 02 8306 3498
Visit the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council
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