Thursday, February 7, 2008

Apologies

I'm not the PM, so I don't have to be quite so circumspect in my words. The following is where I got to on my version of an apology - It could probably go much further than this but it is about where I would start.

To the first Australians, the custodians of this wide brown land, I express on behalf of parliament our sorrow.

Between a mix of good intentioned and ill intentioned actions, successive Australian governments have caused harm and grief to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The result of these actions has been the perpetuation of injustices against you, our fellow Australians, our sisters and our brothers.

Recent governments have recognised these wrongs, and some have acted, but still we have failed. The result is that you do not live as long as your fellow Australians. You suffer from crime and unemployment at levels that would never be tolerated if they were experienced by all Australians.

We are sorry that this situation has been allowed to continue.

We are sorry that we came, uninvited, and took away your land.

We are sorry that we gave you work, but took away your pay.

We are sorry that we gave you money, but took away your work.

We are sorry that we took away your children and gave you despair, for well intentioned as our motives may have been, the grief from those days has remained and continues.

We are sorry for all the right things, done the wrong way and for all the wrong things done in the name of the government.

We are sorry for dragging our heels when you asked for help and for placing bureaucracy in the way of compassion.

We are sorry for acting compassionately without consulting you on how best to turn that compassion into useful actions.

We are sorry that even today you die sooner than your fellow Australians, and that 'benign neglect' has been our most positive policy response to this.

We are sorry that because of this neglect you are more likely to be victims and perpetrators of crime, your women assaulted and raped, your children abused and your young men jailed.

We have known this has been happening for years and we have not done enough.

It may be that we can never do enough to restore what has been lost, but perhaps, together we can build something new – an Australia that is owned by all of us, that works for all of us and for whom each one of us is willing to take responsibility.

We can be the best of all nations – but we cannot be the best of all nations unless our first people take their place in the continued renewal of our nation.

For this we all are responsible and for having prevented you from participating in our national life we are indeed very sorry. This has harmed us all and you most of all.

We are sorry that this apology has taken 200 years to make.

4 comments:

upstream said...

This is excellent mate.

Lance Mac said...

Hear, Hear

grace said...

Grendel,
Very well written.
This could easily apply to the native americans in the US who have experienced similar injustices and the resulting mess of bureaucracy, welfare, and poverty.

Deano said...

Amen Mate - I think that's great