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National Apology Day

Learn about the National Apology and why its anniversary is acknowledged each year

3 min read

On 13 February 2008, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised on behalf of the Australian Government to the Stolen Generations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were forcibly removed from their families and communities by successive colonial and Australian governments.

In the landmark speech, which was delivered in a televised statement to both Houses of Parliament and to members of the Stolen Generations present, the Government called on all Australians to reflect on the past actions that form an important part of the country’s history. 

Each year, 13 February offers an important time to reflect on how generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been affected, and continue to be affected, by the past policies of the Australian Government and the ongoing impacts of this on the health and wellbeing of First Nations People.

First Nations Viewer Advice
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following video may contain images and voices of people who have passed away.

What is the difference between National Apology Day and National Sorry Day?

National Apology Day is a separate occasion to National Sorry Day. National Sorry Day, or the National Day of Healing, is held on 26 May each year. This day marks the anniversary of the date the Bringing them Home report was published in 1997, which outlined the findings from Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their families.

The National Apology was delivered in response to the recommendation of 5a of Bringing them Home

5a. That all Australian Parliaments
1. officially acknowledge the responsibility of their predecessors for the laws, policies and practices of forcible removal,
2. negotiate with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission [ATSIC] a form of words for official apologies to Indigenous individuals, families and communities and extend those apologies with wide and culturally appropriate publicity, and
3. make appropriate reparation as detailed in following recommendations.

What is happening at QPAC on National Apology Day this year?

To commemorate the 14th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2022, Link-Up (Qld) will host a morning tea at QPAC for invited guests that includes performances, personal accounts from Australian First Nations Elders and recognition of the anniversary by Members of Parliament.

We invite you to watch a live stream of the event on Monday 14 February 2022 from 10.00 to 11.30am (AEST). 

Dr (Aunty) Ruth Hegarty, who grew up in the dormitories at Cherbourg, and Aboriginal activist Patricia Turner AM, CEO National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks will deliver keynote speeches. There will also be performances by Ken Jacobs on didgeridoo and R&B soul singer Rochelle Pitt Watson.

Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships the Hon. Craig Crawford MP and Federal Member for Griffith Terri Butler MP will also address the morning tea in recognition of the Apology.

Link-Up (Qld) Aboriginal Corporation provides a service to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been affected by past government policies and practices related to forced removal, fostering, institutionalisation and adoption.

They conduct family history research and tracing, and facilitate healing activities, community education sessions and public awareness events. The organisation also works to influence policy and keep the challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have faced and are facing on the agenda.

Further reading and resources:

QPAC First Nations

Acknowledgement of Traditional Custodians

We pay our respects to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors of this land, their spirits and their legacy. The foundations laid by these ancestors – our First Nations Peoples – gives strength, inspiration and courage to current and future generations, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, towards creating a better Queensland.