Tuesday, February 12, 2008

sorry - at last

can't sleep - i ought to be asleep after 5 days of creche vomiting bug going through the family but my mind is buzzing, i feel a huge sense of anticipation. because tomorrow Australia says 'sorry' to the Stolen Generations. at long last. just to write those words brings tears to my eyes - the same tears that i felt when i read the Labor Party's election policies on Indigenous children that took as their first principle the right for all children to have basic health and education. all children, everywhere.

i don't write about my work much - i 'do' social policy and have done Indigenous or Aboriginal affairs policy on and off since 1993. i have been inspired by the comprehensive and spare bluntness and sorrow of the royal commission into aboriginal deaths in custody report, paul keating's redfern speech, archie roach, paul kelly's 'from little things big things grow', midnight oil, goanna, judy watson

i have felt deep shame when trying to explain native title, terra nullius and the Stolen Generations to my children - their simple question 'but why did they do that, mum?'

people often say 'how could you work on that stuff' or 'what's the answer?' because Indigenous policy and the issues of disadvantage and the entangled effects of more than 200 years of dispossession and racism can seem intractable and just too hard to unravel. and it can seem so - especially when another report comes out cataloguing the terrible effects of the past 200 years.

and then there is the issue of being a whitefella working for government and walking the minefield of paternalism and racism - mine and the System's....

but then i think of the Aboriginal baby born in October 2004 - the same time as my youngest child - perhaps in the same suburb, or the same city or state. why should that child not have the same life chances as my child, just because my son is a whitefella and the other child a blackfella. it is wrong, deeply wrong and anything i can do, any small thing that could help to change that is worth doing and worth persevering.

tomorrow is the first step - we can't undo nearly 12 years of active racist divisive politics but we can try recover the spirit of reconciliation that was beginning in the early 1990's and we can run with it.

watch the apology to the stolen generations tomorrow - then live it

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