The Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples was delivered by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on February 13, 2008, and acknowledged in particular the Stolen Generations.
Each year NSDC encourages all schools, community groups, workplaces and individuals to commemorate the anniversary of this important event in Australia's history.
We encourage everyone to engage in events that mark the Anniversary of the Apology. For Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, this date holds deep meaning.
This year the Healing Foundation held a concert at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl to celebrate the Apology Anniversary on 13 February 2014. It brought Indigenous and non-Indigenous performers together in a shared vision of unity for all Australians and was a spectacular success!
Some ideas to help you plan your event
You could hold a commemorative assembly, ceremony, concert, picnic or storytelling event.
It's a good idea to check what events have taken place in the past, if any, and to check with the community members during the planning stage. It is important not to assume that what is appropriate in one community will be appropriate in another.
For all commemorations a Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgement of Country should always take place at the commencement of the event.
Welcome to Country is a ceremony performed by a local traditional custodian or Elder of the land on which the ceremony is performed. The purpose of a Welcome to Country ceremony is to welcome all present and to offer a safe visit and safe travel during their stay.
Acknowledgement of Country is a respectful public acknowledgement of the traditional custodians of the land that you are meeting on. This acknowledgement helps to show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s First Peoples. An Acknowledgement of Country can be performed by anyone.
A detailed explanation and further information to help you arrange either a Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgement of Country can be found at http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/downloads/approach/indigenous_p001_0802.pdf
There are a number of commemorative elements that you could integrate into your event that can contribute toward healing and reconciliation, such as:
A minute’s silence, to remember the Stolen Generations;
'Smoking Ceremony', in order to cleanse the area and to rid the participants of what is not needed. This should be led by a locally respected and appropriate local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community member;
A flag raising ceremony (to either full or half-mast), where the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and the Australian Flags are raised, to show the respect that the event has for all Australian peoples;
Play the Nomad Apology clip (It’s time), a powerful clip, that will help motivate and inspire those in attendance
Light candles for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were taken away;
Visit a local site of historical significance for the Stolen Generations. We recommend you speak to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members when identifying places of significance.
More about the Stolen Generations
Almost every Aboriginal family (and some Torres Strait Islander families) today can identify the loss of family members due to the forcible removal policies. The children that were removed and separated from their families grew up without an understanding of traditional knowledge culture and without a sense of connection to the land and country where they were born. This disconnection from their families, ancestors, communities and culture has had a lasting and negative effect on the wellbeing and identity of Stolen Generations members, and has had an intergenerational impact on their children and families. It is likely that these effects will continue into the future.