It was one of those times in my life that I will never forget. Since my early years at school I had been taught all sorts of things about the indigenous people of Australia, the Aborigines. I was taught that they are the oldest living indigenous people of anywhere in world, having been in Australia for up to 60,000 years prior to the arrival of the first fleet from England in 1788.
I was also taught that white men had hunted Aborigines in the Australian State of Tasmania to extinction and that the life expectancy for an Aboriginal person was far less than that of a white person. I was taught that Aboriginal children were forcefully taken from their families to “live a better life” with white Australians – these people became known as the “Stolen Generation”.
I also learned that Aboriginal people were not recognized as Australian citizens until 1967 – just 9 years before I was born. Until that time they had no right to vote – something I found staggering. Our former Prime Minister refused to say sorry to the Aboriginal people during his entire time in office. He refused to heal a wound that had been left to bleed for so long and in doing so prolonged the pain and suffering of so many people throughout our country.
On February 13, 2008 current Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd in Parliament in front of the nation and in the presence of former prime ministers Paul Keating, Bob Hawke, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser as well as 17 people representing the stolen generation, finally said sorry.
Prime Minister Rudd said sorry to the Aboriginal people of Australia and today is National Sorry Day. It is with the deepest sincerity that I say sorry to every Aborigine on behalf of myself and Marquette Turner Luxury Homes. It is a day for reflection – it is a day to ponder the wrongs of the past and to understand the pain felt by so many. In doing so we allow for a brighter, happier and more respectful future for all Australians.
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