Ten years on – Responses to the National Apology to the Stolen Generations : Brisbane

On 13 February 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made the historic Apology to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Parliament of Australia. Following the Apology, State Library of Queensland captured responses from a number of Queenslanders from a range of backgrounds and geographic locations, recording their impressions, feelings and memories surrounding this event.

In June 2008, SLQ, with assistance from Queensland University of Technology and Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, recorded digital stories (2-4 minute videos) with a group of Brisbane residents. This project later extended to encompass regional Queensland with stories gathered from residents of Mount Isa, Cairns, Cooktown and Hope Vale.

The following stories were recorded in Brisbane in 2008. The information about each interviewee was captured at the time of recording and may no longer be current.

General Manager of 98.9 FM, Brisbane’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community radio station, Tiga Bayles has a long history in the Indigenous broadcasting sector and has been instrumental in the establishment and management of Indigenous radio stations over the past two decades. Tiga reflects on attending the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples at Parliament House, Canberra on 13 Februrary 2008. He also talks about the experiences of members of the Stolen Generation and what the Apology means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. [Tiga Bayles passed away in 2016] (Duration – 3 min. 01 sec.)

Jeremy Robertson is a drama student at the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts. Originally from Coolamon, near Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Jeremy spent much of his childhood travelling back and forth between Queensland and New South Wales. His mother is Aboriginal and his father is Chinese. Jeremy talks about his experiences at the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA), contending with racial stereotypes and what the Apology meant to him. (Duration – 2 min. 10 sec.)

Natalie Alberts is a descendent of the Iman/Yiman/Jiman people of the Dawson River region, with traditional affiliations to the Gambuwal people and Wakka-Wakka and Burrungum speaking people of the Darling Downs. Natalie’s family has endured the enforced practices of removal and displacement from traditional homelands onto Missions, Reserves and Industrial Schools; although the family groups have maintained their connections to country and to one another. Natalie is the Assistant Director of the Musgrave Park Cultural Centre which provides for the preservation, presentation and promotion of Aboriginal culture and heritage; and provides a platform for Indigenous artists to develop and display their skills. The Cultural Centre also provides cultural awareness and education for groups of the wider community. The Centre’s programs provides employment and training opportunities for Indigenous people, and encourages mentoring by Elders and Cultural Teachers for Indigenous youth. (Duration – 3 min. 07 sec.)

Sam Watson Jr. is a leading Aboriginal poet of his generation. His volume of poetry Muse, Meandering and Midnight won the 1999 David Unaipon Award and Smoke Encrypted Whispers won the 2004 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry at the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards. In between writing and community projects Sam is a regular guest speaker, workshop facilitator and mentor for the creative arts. Sam recalls working as a security supervisor on an industrial site the night before the Apology and how he came to process the meaning of the Prime Minister’s speech.  (Duration – 2 min. 25 sec.)

Nadine McDonald-Dowd – Nadine’s mother, Veronica Anne McDonald, is a member of the Stolen Generation and was invited to sit in the Gallery of Parliament House for the Apology. Nadine accompanied her mother and father to Canberra. She talks about her mother’s experiences and how the Apology helped her come to terms with her past. (Duration – 2 min. 25 sec.)

The Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh, shares her opinions on how past legislation has impacted upon Aboriginal people. She talks particularly about the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, and how a bipartisan apology is important for improving conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. (Duration –
2 min. 35 sec.)

Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, as Governor of Queensland, talks about her emotional response to the Prime Minister’s Apology, her role in Indigenous issues and how she first learned about the Stolen Generation in 1978. (Duration – 2 min. 38 sec.)

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