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Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples

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Large crowd of Indigenous men and women walking up stairs away from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy bearing Aboriginal flags coloured black on top and red on the bottom with a yellow circle. One man in a black shirt with red and yellow panels carrying a piece
Crowd bearing flags and smoking ceremony artefacts for the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, Canberra, 13 February 2008
12 Feb 2018

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this story may contain images of deceased people. 

The 13th of February 2018 marks 10-years since the Apology made on behalf of the Australian Government by the former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

Starting the healing

The journey to the Apology began with the 1997 Bringing Them Home report – the findings of an inquiry by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1995.

The report suggested that the first step in healing is the acknowledgment of truth and the delivery of an apology.

Following the report, in 1998 thousands of Australians participated in the Sorry Book campaign, resulting in the first National Sorry Day on 26 May 1998.

Showing a tide of support, the Walk for Reconciliation across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, took place on 28 May 2000. This peaceful demonstration by nearly 250,000 people declared a growing awareness of the importance of reconciliation and a need for a national apology. Thousands more walked across bridges across Australia.

The day after the Apology, the then Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Professor Tom Calma, issued a formal response to the Apology at Parliament House in Canberra, titled ‘Let the healing begin.’

‘Let us feel proud that we are now facing the difficult and dark experiences from our past in order to move forward.

Let us also feel proud that – as a nation - we respect our fellow citizens, we care for their plight and we offer our hand in friendship so that we may all enjoy the bounty of this great nation.’

Professor Calma recognised the difficulties faced in attempting to unite people, but acknowledged much hope in the leadership of our nation.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary

A number of events are being held around the country to commemorate the anniversary.

Mr Michael McLeod of Message Stick Communications will host a breakfast in the Great Hall of Parliament House on the day of the anniversary.  A number of members of the Stolen Generations will attend this event. 

The Healing Foundation will host #Apology10 – Heal Our Past, Build Our Future concert at Federation Mall, Parliament House on Tuesday 13th February 2018.  The concert will be hosted by Steven Oliver and Myf Warhurst.

A decade since the Apology, we acknowledge the significance of this day, and look toward to continuing the reconciliation of Australia as a nation. 

Find out more

The Australian Government funds a range of practical support measures to support the members of the Stolen Generations and their families such as counselling, family tracing and reunions, and other healing activities.

In addition to these measures, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation is funded to support and promote Indigenous healing throughout Australia. 

The establishment of the Healing Foundation was announced on the first anniversary of the Apology and enact later that year in October 2009.