This is the generation we’re stealing from today 167



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In 2000, I marched across the Sydney Harbour Bridge alongside 250,000 others who thought it was time to apologise to Indigenous Australians. 15 years later, it seems we simply can’t say sorry enough.

Today’s Aboriginal children are still falling through the cracks. Many are still missing out on a proper education, they suffer from the damage done to their parents and grandparents in institutions. And they are still expected to die 17 years earlier other Australian children.

During his historical speech in 2008 Kevin Rudd said, “We apologise for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians”.

The Prime Minister went on to list a range of promises for a brighter future, including “A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, indigenous and non-indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity”.

Sadly, the 2015 Close the Gap report released this year painted a grim picture of our progress. Of the seven targets identified in improving Indigenous people’s health, education and employment, only two are on track.

Improvements in life expectancy, early childhood education, literacy, numeracy and youth employment have either not been made or are falling behind. In addition to this, Aboriginal people still experience more domestic violence, spend disproportionately  more time in prison and suffer higher rates of communicable disease.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott described the report as “profoundly disappointing”.

Oxfam Australia says babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

National Sorry Day acknowledges the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report, which brought to light the plight of the Stolen Generations – children who were forcibly removed from their families up until the 1970s. It also serves to remind Australians and policy makers of the impacts extreme measures have had on Indigenous Australians.

Last year’s Budget cut more than $500 million funding to Indigenous affairs, with some groups clawing back small amounts this year. Then there is the closure of communities in Western Australia. Meanwhile, the Recognise movement continues to fight for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders to be recognised in the Australian constitution and to acknowledge the pre-European history of the country. As Harold Ludwick, a Bulgun Warra man from Cape York, puts it: “If the Constitution was the birth certificate of Australia, we’re missing half the family”.

So it seems we still have a lot to be sorry for, not least of all the fact we don’t seem to know how to move forward.

What does National Sorry Day mean to you? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. No guilt here. We can all make our way if we want to.

    7 REPLY
    • Mine is 5th generation now and I feel that if we hadnt settled here there wouldnt of course been any progress at all, we brought that here with the settlement. I dont agree with what went on in the past long ago, but we have to stop being racists on BOTH sides and stop this blame game. that goes on and on..

    • 30000 ABORIGINALS IN VICTORIA AT WHITE SETTLEMENT .MORE NOW …can we just leave a race of people in little slums in the desert to rot like we have in the last 200 years …while spending millions to keep them there .?? close the gap out there HOW ??

    • all people in this land called Australia have rights and that goes for the many many peoples who have migrated here and set their families up through hard work and trying to get on with everyone else. There are some who don’t want to – they just come and put their hand out for hand outs – I’m not talking of those they are the minority really. i too was robbed of things in life, but I still got on – hated school but still went, moved away to work and better my education, treated on health matters to the detriment of my health, retired early because of health and abuse at work – so what is so different. I had no kids so no handouts, no time off work, worked extra shifts to cover those who did – need I go on…?

    • My mother spent three years in a Church of England home due a family divorce. When she read the “horror” stories of aboriginal girls in similar homes her reaction was that it was not different from her experience. But she went on to bring up six fine children, become a leader in her community, and lead an exemplary life.

      Some aboriginal claim to be stolen. Others admit their parents sought out an educational opportunity for their children.

      The protector of aboriginals believed it was the moral duty of our Christian society to take all children with “white” blood out of the terrible and cruel tribal communities and educate them as Christians. If you want to believe that was evil then that is your right. But I regard it as humanitarian as any action we take today. I do not believe my ancestors had anything but the best of intentions at all times.

    • To all you people who took the time to reply to my comment. …. My ancestors came to Australia in the early to mid 1800s. HOWEVER I do have aborigine blood flowing in some of the younger generation of the family tree.I have first hand experience of what they can do IF THEY FEEL LIKE IT. I am not just voicing an opinion on this for the sake of it, any of the indiginious population have the opportunities to make a go of life if they want to.. OH and I went to school and sat next to the children of the 50s and they had the same teachers and lessons that I did. That’s all.

  2. Nobody is asking you for guilt Barb Wright. Simply to understand that it is likely you will have benefitted simply from not being one of the people who have not benefitted – that is one of the people who fit the general perception of how people are meant to live, look, behave, know.

  3. It’s all take and they do nothing to help themselves and will never do as long as their getting all their free land and free hand outs we have said sorry that’s that

    11 REPLY
    • It was there land and if you knew anything about the history of this country, you would know that by law, and that law is still current today..Captain Cook was supposed to offer them a treaty.. he never did

    • How do you class land that belonged to them and was stolen away from them as “free land”.
      How about we come to your place and take your land off you…..

    • The natives have been mistreated since the arrival of the first white people, they were treated like vermin, and some people would still treat them that way, it’s time some of you racist took a trip to an aboriginal settlement and stayed and learnt some of their ways, yes some behave badly, but so would you if your were treated like dogs for most of your life.

    • They have enough land they have done nothing to build and develop their land and Australia it’s over 200 years since the landing of Captain Cook most aboriginals including those with 1 percent aboriginal blood continue to receive land and government support free and haven’t or do not work yet we are supposed to continue to grovel! Do the rest of us have to work hard and pay for everything forever to pacify them for ever. Let them earn their own living or are they to busy getting drunk and abusing their wives and children . I have met a few stolen children who were given an education they were not complaining they held great jobs. Let’s have respect for those working Australians paying their taxes help build Australia I am sick of people calling poor me poor me and do nothing to help themselves. Yes some have helped protect Australia through conflict one has to admire them yes there are some are out working very few but there are too few willing to do the same very sad what about the aborigines thanking and respecting Australians for the work they have done to build and protect this country worth thinking about!

    • Respect for our culture surely is not too much to ask? Which was lost and people can learn from!

    • I agree with you Susan Porter, the aboriginal people need to stop blaming everyone else for their problems and get the kids to school and do so learning themselves, then they may be able to move ahead, instead of vegetating and having the give me give me attitude.

    • Thank you Cheryl I agree with your give me give me no one commends those who work hard for a living its only the lazy individuals who receive all the handouts.

  4. Screaming bloody do gooders I think you fail to see the problem I sympathise with what has happened but before you all make comments research the facts and open your eyes please don’t bombard me with your views because it won’t change mine first fact to check is how much money is allocated to their welfare year

    8 REPLY
    • You obviously haven’t researched it. They get the same as people in cities get.
      Gina Rhinehart ges more government funding in the way of tax breaks and grants than is given to the entire remote community funding.

      1 REPLY
      • Gina Rineheart and people like her employ thousands of workers all of them pay tax, she pays millions in royalties to the states and to some aboriginal communities, they bring in billions of dollars in export revenue. I may have missed something tell me again what do the aboriginals contribute to this great country and economy

    • How much of this allocated money actually gets to the indigenous people after the administrators have taken their cut

    • Which is used in white administration wages, cars etc! Check it out! I have lived it and seen it!

    • Okay you two then add on top of that all the royalties each community is given at least twice a year and sometimes three times a year from the mining in there area. Then you can scream at us for getting fed up with their nonsense.

    • I agree with you Cheryl money received is not put to proper use by the aboriginal administrators about time the Aboriginals stopped crying poor mouth

    • I’m not screaming! Just stating my own experiences.. Mind you I’ve lived in both worlds whereas I’m assuming ONLY assuming you have not lived elsewhere other than where your lifestyle suits you!

    • Hi josie have seen both sides lived in the territory for a few years have seen it all first hand you can’t. Help people who arnt. interested in being helped but just want and expect everything handed to them on a platter

    • Hi Norm Draper have lived in Darwin as well, it is the way everything is handled without consultation. I could go on and on…. I do appreciate your response, thank you!

  5. My best friend is of aboriginal descent, I hope she read this and comments, her grandson is young actor and on tv in some Australian shows. The children have learned Aboriginal dance and perform with others regularly, My friend has worked with aboriginal people and is known and loved all over Australia. I went to school with her and I have always loved and admired her. She lives in the city and has taken advantage of the city has to offer, including education. these first Australians want to be helped they just need to be given a helping and guiding hand. I get furious when the ignorant in here say they can’t be helped

    2 REPLY
  6. Having lived in the NT for over 20 years, I can tell you there is fault on both sides. But I still believe there is a lot more we could be doing to help the people out on rmote settlements.
    I would bet that all you “they get to much money ” or “they won’t help themselves” or “I don’t owe them anything ” commenters have never even been on a settlement and seen how things are.
    As for all this money they get, more money is given to the lijes of Gina Rhinehart than is given to the entire remote locality settlements throughout Australia.
    And no they don’t get any special payments to attend school or anything else. They receive the same payment as people in the cities receive.
    However, it costs three times the amount to live in the outback.

    I’d like to see some of you racists living without running water or electricity.
    I have worked on these communities and with these people. They want the same things for their families as everyone else wants.
    And it’s easy to say they can move to a town. How about you all just pack up your lives and mive away from the life you have always known and your family and support network. See how you would feel being put into a situation where people shun you.

    13 REPLY
    • Well said. Yes, there are some that won’t help themselves, but isn’t that in every race? I have never been to a settlement, but I also think there is a lot of things we Citi dwellers don’t know, so your comment is well regarded by me at least. I think the indigenous people have a very tough time. Thank you for that

    • But for the grace of God, go I………its such a complex dilemma that these people have to deal with every day! I’m just grateful that our government is now focusing on the people who have “no excuse” yet see that it is their privilege to “wrought the system”! Finally, to run the country rather than buy votes….that’s what we are paying them to do! I feel nothing but compassion for our indigenous people, however getting extremely intolerant of no hoper druggies draining the country. I’m truly terrified as to what lay ahead for this society, we’ve only had a small taste of what is to come with the likes of ICE etc.!

    • If only we could keep politics out of it , the politics of government the politics of land councils the politics of mining and primary interests . Then we could make some progress . How much help is given and how much is being siphoned off by vested interests ? ..

    • Parents were or are paid to send their children to school. For teachers to try and run a curriculum when suddenly kids are missing in class because the parents have gone walkabout is a problem. Education is the one thing that can assist people to a better lifestyle.

      1 REPLY
      • As a former Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer I find a lot of these remarks very offensive. We do not get free cars, housing, paid to send kids to school or any of the other perks like money from mining. We get EXACTLY the same as any other person. Before you all start an people taking welfare, look at the white population and the thousands of no hopers and drug users. Every race has good and bad people it’s just that the Aboriginal ones have more free time because they don’t get the work. I have actually had someone tell me to my face that it is lucky that I don’t look aboriginal or I would not have been able to keep my job as it is not a good ‘front office look’.

        1 REPLY
        • Ann that is a very harsh thing to say about the way you look it is a sad comment on how we are supposed to look for asthetics. I have lived and worked in Walgett, Goodooga ,Lightning Ridge, Willcania and been out around Broken Hill and I have seen some marvelous people and some that get uptight on alcohol but the one thing that they agree on is that they are Aboriginal and would not mind going back to their roots.

    • Carmel Bogdan
      You are the worse of racists. A Bogan from Ipswich. Yes, I’ve do have the cheek to call otgers racist. As for my bleeding heart, it’s so much better than the dead piece of offal inside your chest. I’d rather be called a bleeding heart anyday than be like you.

    • Peter Hayward
      Many years ago parents were paid to send their children to school. That hasn’t been the case for well over 20 years. As for kids not turning up to school, have you seen the stats for the number of kids who don’t turn up for school in the towns and cities???

    • this place is full of hard hearted racists ( but not everyone feels like that ) Ruth.. it is a bloody shame it makes you despair of humanity..cheers Ruth

    • The arrogance of some ppl astounds me. Everyone has a different experience…..which forms opinions. Is it necessary to be so abusive towards those whose opinion differs??

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