“My wife and I kept our daughters home from school to watch the apology. It was a significant day not just for our people but all Australians.” – Ken Markwell, EGM Indigenous Services, Australian Unity.
On 13 February 2008, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered the Australian Government’s National Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, acknowledging Australia’s wrongdoing which resulted in Stolen Generations.
The apology was a direct response to Recommendation 5a of the “Bringing them Home: the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families” report, which was tabled in parliament on 26 May 1997.
Despite it taking over a decade for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to receive a formal apology from the Australian government after the tabling of the recommendation in the report, the date of 13 February holds poignant significance for indigenous peoples.
What is National Apology Day?
National Apology Day is commemorated annually on 13 February and encourages remembrance of - and apology to - Stolen Generations and those whose lives have been blighted by past government policies of forced child removal and assimilation.
This commemoration differs from Sorry Day which is held annually on 26 May, to mark the original tabling of the Bringing the Home report, and which aims to raise awareness about forcible removal policies and the impact left on the children who were taken, their families and their communities.
What are we doing?
Australian Unity recognises and upholds the sentiments laid out in the National Apology. At an operational level Ken Markwell, EGM Indigenous Services, is leading Australian Unity in the development of cultural-specific services as part of the Aboriginal Homecare service.
“What’s important now as a nation is to work with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to respect our peoples’ cultures and empower our prosperity,” says Ken.
We strive to continue the progress and empowerment of Indigenous Australians through our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
“This was a real motivation for me coming to work for an organisation like Australian Unity ... they walk the talk!”