Australia apology to Aborigines
– Kevin Rudd’s apology represents a break from previous policies
– Blackfellas will get the words, the whitefellas keep the money, said
Noel Pearson Aboriginal leader
The Australian government has made a formal apology for the past wrongs caused by successive governments on the indigenous Aboriginal population.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised in parliament to all Aborigines for laws and policies that “inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss”.
He singled out the “Stolen Generations” of thousands of children forcibly removed from their families.
The apology, beamed live around the country on TV, was met with cheers.
But some Aborigines say it should have been accompanied with compensation for their suffering.
‘Indignity and degradation’
In a motion passed unanimously by Australian MPs on Wednesday morning, Mr Rudd acknowledged the “past mistreatment” of all of his country’s Aboriginal population.
For the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry
But the refusal to accompany the apology with any compensation has angered many Aboriginal leaders, who have called it a “cut-price sorry”.
“Blackfellas will get the words, the whitefellas keep the money,” summed up Noel Pearson, a respected Aboriginal leader, in The Australian newspaper.
Mr Rudd has also outlined a new agenda on Aboriginal issues, including a commitment to close the 17-year life expectancy gap between Aborigines and other Australians within a generation, was well as halving Aboriginal infant mortality rates within a decade.
Australia’s 460,000 Aborigines make up 2% of the population and are the most disadvantaged group.
They have higher rates of infant mortality, drug abuse, alcoholism and unemployment than the rest of the population.
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