Leeton students discuss why National Apology Day 2018 is important

TEN years ago Australia’s Prime Minister issued an apology on behalf of the entire country.

Now, on the 10th anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s national apology to Australia’s Indigenous people, especially those who had their families torn apart during the Stolen Generation, residents have been called on to remember why the date February 13 is so important. 

Students from St Francis College this week learned why the date should never be forgotten. 

Amber Lightfoot has Aboriginal heritage and she was hopeful the anniversary of Mr Rudd’s apology would continue to bring home an important message each year. 

“It’s important because they are recognising what happened to Aboriginal people,” the young St Francis student said. 

“I think it’s a way the culture of Indigenous people was given back to them, especially after the Stolen Generations. 

“A lot of people had everything taken from them. 

“I think it’s really important people remember why (the apology was made by Mr Rudd).”

National Apology Day and National Sorry Day are two separate dates marked by many. National Apology Day marks the speech given by Mr Rudd, while National Sorry Day is held every year on May 26. 

The first Sorry Day took place one year after the tabling of The Bringing Them Home Report in Parliament and having a day of commemoration was actually one of the recommendations within the report.

St Francis College student Tarnya Schmidt said National Apology Day should hold an important place in the calendar each year. 

“I just think it’s something we should be talking about all of the time, not just on these days,” she said. “It’s about educating young people so they know what really happened. 

“Everyone should be aware of why it’s so important (we have days like National Apology Day).” Mr Rudd’s speech on that day was a memorable one. 

"For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry,” he said. 

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

The apology was widely accepted, but was not intended to be a “forgive and forget” scenario. 

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