A big turnout for the Kimberley National Apology Day event resulted in 230 people passing through the Broome Convention centre to acknowledge the Kimberley Stolen Generation people.
The Kimberley Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation’s annual event focused on the Australian Government’s National Apology: made 12 years ago and outlined the need to keep a myriad of issues on the table to help Stolen Generation people and their descendants.
Across Australia it’s estimated 1 in 11 mixed race children were removed from their families, culture and country and placed in institutions. According to the Healing Foundation data 33% of Stolen Generation survivors; have problems accessing services, 1 in 7 live with a profound disability and more than 66 percent are now over the age of 50. With this understanding KSGAC encouraged 13 service providers to set up information stalls with art, social and emotional wellbeing and physical health activities to enjoy.
KSGAC Chairperson Dr Mark Bin Bakar addressed the attendees.
“KSGAC endeavours to continue as the voice and advocate for the recognition of the Stolen Generations story despite losing many due to time and age. We exist because of them and our mandate and philosophy continue into the future to remind Governments, institutions and authorities of this crime against our people.”
“We also hold to heart the many children of the Stolen Generation people who also have inherited and carry the burden of those laws that controlled their elders in which through this they also carry through transgenerational trauma.”
“This is reflected in the programs that KSGAC manage. Such as the Link-Up Service helping people to reconnect to family and country; the Redress program which represents the sexual abuse of children in institutions etc and now recently a contract to assist in the Disabilities Royal Commission Counselling Support Services for our mob across the Kimberley.”
“Furthermore we continue to be a beacon for the Stolen Generation people we still have with us. We cherish them and their contributions to our existence and stay true to our Credo.” Said Dr Bin Bakar.
“Welcome everybody to today’s gathering and let’s first and foremost acknowledge that we are here in Yawuru country. I would also like to call for 1-minute’s silence for those innocent children and families that had been affected by the sad policies of the removal of children from family, country, language and identity, their natural birthright that was stolen. I also ask everybody to contemplate and think of those children who became adults who we have since lost along this journey of life.
KSGAC endeavours to continue to be the voice and advocates of recognition for the Stolen Generations story despite losing many due to time and age. We exist because of them and our mandate and philosophy continue, into the future to remind Governments, institutions and authorities of this crime against our people.
We also hold to heart the many children of the Stolen Generation people who also have inherited and carry the burden of those laws that controlled their elders in which through this they also carry through transgenerational trauma which also has affected their lives as well. This is reflected in the programs that KSGAC manage. Ie like the Link-Up Service helping people to reconnect to family and country; the Redress program which represents the sexual abuse of children in institutions etc and now recently a contract to assist in the Disabilities Royal Commission Counselling Support Services for our mob across the Kimberley. Furthermore we continue to be a beacon for the Stolen Generation people we have left with us. We cherish them and their contributions to our existence and stay true to our Credo.
KSGAC plays an important role in the Kimberley region and have always punched well above its weight and have been a leader on a national level through our own stability, voice, representation and strategic thinking. This is highly respected and appreciated by the Healing Foundation and many other Stolen Generation representative groups through Australia.
So what is the Apology celebrations? Taken from the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc.
“The National Apology to the Stolen Generations came about as a recommendation from The National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal Children from their Families. It highlighted the suffering of Indigenous families under the Commonwealth, state and territory Aboriginal protection and welfare laws and policies.”
The National Inquiry then led to the Bringing them home report which was tabled in Parliament on 26 May 1997. It contained 54 Recommendations on how to redress the wrongs done to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by the race-based laws and policies of successive governments throughout Australia.
Members of the Stolen Generations were invited to hear the National Apology first-hand in the gallery of The House of Representatives chamber at Parliament House in Canberra. The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd delivered the Apology at 9.00am on 13 February 2008.
Crowds of people across Australia watched the Apology on big 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 flowed when he finished speaking. Many of our Stolen Generation elders travelled to Canberra to witness this Apology, many of these elders are no longer with us today.
So today we come together to acknowledge some common bonds that unites us.
- It was wrong to remove children;
- As Australians, white and black we are ashamed of this terrible policy of removal;
- Despite the challenges we still survive and strive despite all the challengers thrown at us;
- We come together to let everybody know that this is one of many crimes committed against Aboriginal people;
- We celebrate our survival, our unity and our legacies handed to us through our past elders by coming together as a community which unites us all.
Today we again celebrate the Apology as it was right and had to be done, thanks to the then Prime Minister Mr Kevin Rudd. So today we reflect, celebrate, share and come together in the spirit of Stolen Generation people and we present food, and song through these great artists who will entertain us all today. Thank you for coming and sharing with us. We are all together on this great ship Kimberley working towards a better life for our future generations.
KSGAC would like to thank PAKAM Radio Broadcasters Matt Francis and Sandy Dann for their live coverage. PAKAM Radio’s Mary G in the lead up to the event and ABC Kimberley for their coverage.
Special thanks to the Healing Foundation and the many other services providers who participated.
Kimberley Population Health Unit
Broome Aboriginal Medical Services,
Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services,
North Regional Tafe,
Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation
Aboriginal Family Law Services
Kimberley Community Legal Services
Hippy –Home based, early learning and parenting program
Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service