Kevin Rudd was rightly justified to apologize to the “Stolen Generation”.

The Child Removal Policy has terrorized Aboriginal children and their families since 1869, and didn’t stop until 1969. To add to this, there had been no official apology by the Australian government, until Kevin Rudd in 2008. Aboriginal people have suffered since White Settlers landed in 1788. Evidence of settlers of the indigenous Australians dates back to approximately 49,000 years ago, after evidence was discovered by archaeologists in the Flinders rangers, with a possible range of up to 125,000 years ago. Before European contact, the estimated population was around 500,000 people. Since the first settlement in new south wales, there have been immediate consequences of deaths due to European diseases such as smallpox, measles and tuberculosis.

Members of the Aboriginal community applaud Kevin Rudd’s Speech, 2008 (SBS)

To start, the suffering caused by this Child Removal policy has been immeasurable, and the ramifications are still being felt today.

By 1900, the indigenous population had dropped dramatically to only 93,000 people. This loss of population could be described as a holocaust, and this is before the emergence of the Child Removal Policy. Under acts of parliament, children of Aboriginal parents were forcibly taken involuntarily from their homes and placed into care. The emotional depredation from this policy is unfathomable for both parents and children.

The living condition in the many orphanages and other facilities caused great trauma to those members of the stolen generation. As a result, these children were far less likely to complete their secondary education, and three times as likely to acquire a police record. As well, the children were twice as likely to use illicit drugs than others in the Aboriginal community, which is already far higher than those of European descent.

These policies were created and enforced by non-aboriginal people. The “Victorian Aboriginal Protection Act” of 1869 was the earliest dated legislation to authorize the abhorrent removal from parents. The Northern territory followed with similar laws in 1918, South Australia in 1934 and Western Australia in 1936. This continued up until 1969, where more than 25,000 children were stolen from their homes. To think that these practices continued up until the 70’s is disgusting, and should cause great shame to the Australian public.

These circumstances completely justify why Kevin Rudd was right to apologize to the Stolen Generation.

Children attending school in Mornington Island, 1950 (Human Rights Commission)

Since the first fleet, no Prime Minister has ever apologized or taken responsibility on behalf on the Australian for the devastation caused to the Aboriginal people, specifically the Stolen Generation, until Kevin Rudd in 2008.

National Sorry Day, to commemorate the mistreatment of the indigenous population, started on the 16 of May, 1998. The Day of Mourning, originating in 1938, was the older indigenous version of Sorry Day. Whilst the significance of this day had become more apparent, a report of national enquiry into the stolen generation recommended that the Prime Minister apologize to the indigenous people for their suffering. The Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, downright refused to take part in any apology. The opposition leader of the time moved to replace Howard’s “Motion of Regret”, but it was not successful.

Besides these relatively recent attempts to make things right, virtually no attempt up to that point was made to apologize. John Gorton, the Prime Minister at the time that the removal of children had begun to decrease, has had no apology to the aboriginal people or even a admittance that the program had devastating effects on record.

The fact that no Prime Minister, let alone politician, has ever officially apologized is reason enough for Kevin Rudd to apologize to the Aboriginal people.

John Howard proclaiming “I don’t believe genocide had Taken place” in 2014. (The Guardian)

Some people believe that it wasn’t appropriate for the Prime Minster to apologize to the stolen generation as it wasn’t caused by him. This is fundamentally wrong, as the apology was meant as a symbolic gesture.

The speech has started a ongoing process of healing the wounds caused by the Australian government. The apology had finally validated the pain and suffering caused by the Child Removal Policies and was the first step to “Closing the Gap”. Ever since the apology, every Prime Minister has stood up to reiterate what was said on Sorry day, and give status to what measures are being taken to close the gap that exists to the Aboriginal people.

An important part of the Apology was what was being done after to right the wrongs caused by the Government. A government program called “Closing the Gap” is dedicated to targeting the Child mortality rate in Aboriginal communities, employment, education and increasing the current life expectancy for Aboriginal people.

The Apology has clearly started a movement with actual steps being taken to right wrongs, which is proof that Kevin Rudd was justified to make an Apology.

The Aboriginal Flag (Herald Sun)

Kevin Rudd’s apology was sincere, and rightly justified. The suffering caused by this Child Removal policy has been immeasurable, and the ramifications are still being felt today and since the first fleet, no Prime Minister has ever apologized or taken responsibility on behalf on the Australian for the devastation caused to the Aboriginal people besides Kevin Rudd.

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