Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sorry - the beginning of better times

Well, we were a bit challenged for chalk, but this evening the kids and I took up Senator Bob Brown's suggestion of writing 'Sorry' on the footpath outside the house. The suggestion was a good one, because it allowed people to add a personal note of apology to the one delivered today to Australia's Indigenous people by Prime Minister Rudd on behalf of the Australian Government.

It has been a great day for Australia, and one in which we could all participate in marking the start of better days. I began by reading the text of the apology from The Age to my eleven-year-old daughter before she went to school (my five-year-old daughter was a bit hard to catch). I was then tuned in variously to Radio National, 774 ABC Melbourne and News Radio, all of which offered live coverage. When I collected the kids from school, the apology was the topic of conversation among the waiting parents, and the kids told me how they had observed the occasion with a special assembly.

Tonight, as I was cooking, I heard an excited exclamation from my eldest daughter when she saw a close-up on the TV news of a little Indigenous boy from her school who was at Melbourne's Federation Square today. Not long after, we left the roast to get a little bit more well-done and went outside with our chalk and a stone from the backyard. There's a 'sorry' from each of us, with a bit of creative highlighting of each other's work to counter an overcast and fading evening sky.

Let's hope today is the start of a much better future for Australia's Indigenous people, and therefore Australia as a country. It is only the start, and will be measured in its success not only in the systemic and widespread improvement in the lives of Indigenous people in terms of health, education and justice, but in terms of compensation reached through consensus and recognition of past injustice and harm. Prime Minister Rudd today declared his central and personal role in achieving a better future for all Indigenous people. It was a great first step, and I applaud him for it.

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