Well over 100 people gathered at the Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council on February 13 to celebrate and remember the tenth anniversary of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s national apology to the stolen generation of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and their land.
Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO David Carroll said the anniversary was a chance for everyone to remember and acknowledge the past, but also to highlight the need to look towards the future.
“The Land Council has done a lot of work around acknowledging the need to recognise the past but focusing on the fact we can’t dwell on the past and rather look to our future and what can be done,” Mr Carroll said.
“The anniversary of the national apology is a chance for us to remember that the apology was just the beginning of the community coming together to move forward.”
Uncle Bill O’Brien said the day was a chance for members of the community to come together and reflect and acknowledge the past, while showing the great things happening in the local community.
“Of course we need to remember and acknowledge the past because it did happen, but we also need to be looking to the future to have hope in our young people,” Uncle Bill said.
“Today, on the tenth anniversary of the apology, it is an opportunity to continue to tell the stories of the stolen generation and to have open communication between all members in the community as well as the government.
“It was very important day 10 years ago and we must not forget that.”
Uncle Bill said that since the apology there have been improvements for Aboriginal people in a range of areas but there is still work to be done.
“Education is one of the areas where we are seeing improvements, more and more Aboriginal kids are staying in school and finishing which is great,” he said.
“But there is still a lot of work to do in health, housing and Aboriginal incarceration rates, and we must look at what we can do as a community to improve,” he said.