Apology to the Stolen Generation:10 years on

Dancers performing during the Walk for Reconciliation in Brisbane Queensland 2000, Photo by Jo-anne Driessens
John Oxley Library collection image number 30299-0001-0048

On the 13th of February 2008 then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, officially recognised the generations of children forcibly taken from their families and their country in the name of public policy. He offered a formal, public apology to the victims of forced child removal, especially the Stolen Generations, as his first item of business in the opening session of Parliament. The occasion was witnessed by thousands of people gathered in and around Parliament House for the event and was broadcast all over the country.

Read the original transcript here

Reactions were varied across the country, however the majority were overwhelming positive immediately following the event.

Nobody else in the country wanted to touch the apology but Kevin Rudd, when he was Prime Minister, decided to step up and to lead by example. It wasn’t just a brave thing, it was the right thing —Archie Roach, singer and songwriter

In my heart I feel there is a real need for [the apology]… For my family, it allows some kind of healing and forgiveness to take place where there is less anger and bitterness in the hearts of people —Cathy Freeman, athlete

The State Library coordinated a digital story project and recorded several Queenslanders’ experiences and diverse responses to the Apology. Stories from Brisbane are apart of the library’s online collection and the 7995 Apology Project digital stories and oral history collection, which can be located on One Search. Responses were recorded for Mount Isa and Cairns, Cooktown and Hope Vale as part of the Online Public Access in Libraries (OPAL) and State Library Regional Apology Project. A total of 25 stories were created by the State Library, to capture a snapshot of responses to this historic occasion.

Please take time to hear these stories for yourself 10 years on. You can also check out reflections from our kuril dhagun staff over the years: 2013, 2014 and 2017.

kuril dhagun is hosting a special event with Reconciliation QLD this year. Mark Baumgart will speak about the significance of the National Apology and the lasting outcomes with screenings and afternoon tea to follow.

Date: 13 February
Time: 2pm
Where: kuril dhagun, level 1, State Library of Queensland