On 13 February 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd opened the Parliament of Australia by apologising to the Indigenous peoples of Australia.
The Prime Minister said:
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.
For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
Invited Members of the Stolen Generations heard the apology first-hand in the gallery of The House of Representatives chamber at Parliament House, Canberra. The Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson, replied.
Crowds of people across Australia watched the Apology on large screens in their own cities and towns. Photographic and video records of those witnessing the Apology, show sombre and reflective faces as the Prime Minister spoke of the wrongs governments had inflicted on Indigenous peoples across Australia and a huge wave of tears, relief and applause when he finished speaking.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Apology Transcript', in We say Sorry - The National Apology to Indigenous Peoples of Australia, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 February 2008, Parliament of Australia, 2008, https://www.aph.gov.au/Visit_Parliament/Art/De-commissioned/De-Commissioned_Pages/Custom_Media/Apology_to_Australias_Indigenous_Peoples; The Stolen Generations, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 2008, https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/stolen-generations; Australian Human Rights Commission, 'Content of apologies by State and Territory Parliaments', in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice, 30 March 2008, http://www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/bth_report/apologies_states.html.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 15 August 2012, Last modified: 6 January 2023