Yesterday was the National Sorry Day anniversary. Six years ago Kevin Rudd delivered the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples and became the first Prime Minister to apologise to the Stolen Generations.
I remember the speech well and I still feel the same mix of emotions about it. I felt pride that we had finally reached a point where the pain this policy caused was acknowledged, that the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous was recognised and I hoped that work would begin to bridge that.
I also felt shame. I was ashamed that it took until 2008 for the Apology to happen, and that even then there were people who claims that it was unnecessary. That it was a stunt to salve a non-issue, a moment in history that had no relevance on today.
Five years on, and a lot of that pride has now faded. According to the Government’s own figures, indigenous people on average live a decade less than other Australians. There are other measurements of course, in education, income and quality of life, but I find life expectancy one of the most damning.
I had hope when Tony Abbott declared himself the Minister for Indigenous Affairs that it indicated that the new government was going to treat the issue as a priority. Instead in his recent Closing the Gap report only half of the goals, infant mortality, access to early childhood education and achieving year 12 are on track for 2018. Life expectancy and literacy/numeracy rates have shown little improvement in the past five years and employment outcomes have gone backwards.
However this blog is not meant to be about doom and gloom, but instead about celebrating real change. This is clearly a complex issue, with several organisations working in tandem with various focuses. If you support or can recommend an organisation making grassroots change to indigenous communities we’d love to hear your story. Please feel free to comment and nominate below.
Image courtesy of the ABC.