Heal our past, build our future together: the sixth anniversary of the apology to the Stolen Generations

| February 7, 2014

Six years ago today, the Australian Government apologised for the first time formally for the suffering caused to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Florence Onus is a survivor of the Stolen Generations and invites all Australians on a collective healing journey.

Do you remember where you were on the 13th of February, six years ago? Do you remember turning on the TV or listening to the radio as Parliament opened for its first sitting of 2008? For me, and many, many people I know, in fact, for many Australians, we will never forget the moment that the Australian Government said sorry.

So what are you doing to celebrate the anniversary today? There are events happening all around the country. To see what members in your community are doing, visit http://healingfoundation.org.au/how-will-you-commemorate-the-anniversary-of-the-apology-this-13th-of-february/

If you are in Melbourne tonight, like I will be, please come along for the Healing Foundation’s big anniversary concert at the Sidney Music Myer Bowl. The theme for this year’s anniversary is Heal our past, build our future together.

As a survivor of the Stolen Generations, I’ve been on a healing journey for the past 25 years of my adult life. I’m the fourth generation of my family that has suffered removal from land, culture and each other. My story is my mother’s story, my grandmother’s story and my great grandmother’s story.

The Apology had a big impact on my life. I didn’t realise the impact it would have on me until that day arrived. And on the day of the Apology I was just a dribbling mess. It was like a wave of tears was released from me and from a lot of people around our country. I believe that we cried the tears of not only our generation but also of our ancestors. That is why the Apology was so important to me, to many survivors, and to our people. Healing definitely occurred for our nation and people on that day and it opened up the door for a future we could all share together.

The Apology brought together all Australians. It was one significant event that brought the whole nation to a standstill. It focused not only on the Stolen Generations, but all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I think it made all Australians reflect on the past atrocities that had occurred, the significance of the Apology and where to for the future. I hope that as we celebrate the Apology that we will continue on that journey: healing our past and building our future together. Even a quiet moment to reflect on the significance of this day will connect us all, as Australians, on a collective healing journey.