A BIG crowd of residents, young and old, acknowledged the 10th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generation at the Muswellbrook Shire Council Administration Centre on Tuesday.
Civic leaders, Hunter Valley Police District representatives and school children from Muswellbrook and Denman joined the special flag-raising ceremony, which was hosted by council’s Aboriginal Reconciliation Committee.
One of the Stolen Generation, Muswellbrook’s Margaret Matthews, unfurled the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags while didgeridoo player Richie Lawton also took part in the service.
“Ex-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s National Apology meant a lot to some people; to others it was just words,” said Aunty Jean Hands from the Wanaruah Aboriginal Land Council.
“Let’s hope [what occurred] is never repeated.
“But, now, we must look to the future.”
Meanwhile, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights organisation ANTaR also paused to reflect on the anniversary.
National director Andrew Meehan said the Apology, delivered a decade ago, was a watershed moment of healing for the nation that must be followed with stronger efforts to address trauma, support healing, and provide reparations and care to surviving Stolen Generations’ members.
“The Apology was an incredibly important moment for the country but we must move beyond words to action,” he said.
“It is positive that the Leader of the Opposition committed a future Labor government to reparations, and further support for the Healing Foundation yesterday.
“Such initiatives should be bipartisan.
“All sides of parliament have acknowledged the terrible hurt and suffering caused by decades of government policy, surely some support in the form of reparations in the dying years of Stolen Generations’ members is something the government can come on board with.”