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Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples

Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples

Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, 2008, The Hon Kevin Rudd (author and signatory) (born 1957), Gemma Black (calligrapher) (born 1956), Gifts Collection, Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra ACT. Commissioned by The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2008.

About this collection highlight

In 1995 a National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families commenced, headed by the President of the Human Rights and Equality Commission, Sir Ronald Wilson.

By the end of 1996 nearly 800 submissions had been heard and in May 1997 the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament concluding that:

For individuals, their removal as children and the abuse they experienced at the hands of the authorities or their delegates have permanently scarred their lives. The harm continues in later generations, affecting their children and grandchildren.

After winning the 2007 election, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered an official apology on 13 February 2008. He expressed regret for past government policies that resulted in the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families.

I move:

That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations—this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

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.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

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.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia

On display every day

Members Hall, level 1

Download a copy of the Apology to print (A3 PDF, 800KB).

Further resources 


We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of country throughout Australia and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to the people, the cultures and the elders past, present and emerging.

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