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Calls for more action for Stolen Generations on anniversary of national apology -
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PETER LLOYD: Seven years ago today then prime minister Kevin Rudd handed down the national apology» to the Stolen Generations. But Indigenous groups are warning there is still a long way to achieve true equality and reconciliation.

Today in Adelaide, more than 1,000 people gathered to mark the speech and call for constitutional recognition.

In Adelaide, Natalie Whiting reports.

NATALIE WHITING: The annual «apology» breakfast opened in Adelaide with two women performing a traditional dance.

For Geoff Cooper it was hard to watch.

GEOFF COOPER: I was taken away when I was nine years old and the Noori dance that was on, that was the town where they first did it, that's where I was taken away from.

NATALIE WHITING: So how was it watching that dance?

GEOFF COOPER: Oh, here on in, in tears.

NATALIE WHITING: He says he remembers sitting in a fenced off area at a park in Adelaide, among a big crowd, watching a broadcast of the «apology» .

GEOFF COOPER: Pretty special because there were two young kids from Pembroke and they jumped the fence and they apologised, and I said "You know, you guys got nothing to apologise for". She said, "No, but we're sorry it happened".

NATALIE WHITING: More than 1,000 people attended the «apology» breakfast, which was hosted by Reconciliation SA.

(Sound of song in an Indigenous language)

EMCEE: Thank you very much, Aleicha (phonetic), for your fabulous welcome to country.

So this breakfast is very special. it's the seventh «anniversary» of the national «apology» .

NATALIE WHITING: The co-chair of Reconciliation SA, professor Peter Buckskin, says it's vital the day is recognised.

PETER BUCKSKIN: It's important to get and recognise Australia's true history and as unsavoury and disappointing as the Stolen Generation is and our lack of recognition in the Australian constitution at this point in time is, we need to move forward and have a better conversation together in a more respectful and dignified way.

NATALIE WHITING: Reconciliation SA has used the event to call for more action.

Co-chair Robyn Layton says governments need to implement the key recommendations of the Bringing Them Home report.

ROBYN LAYTON: The stolen generations of Aboriginal Australians have still not fully been recognised. I mean it's 18 years ago since the Bringing Them Home report. That contained 54 recommendations, two of the big ones include a reparation and rehabilitation. Where's the action been? Where's the follow up been? There's still no reparation, there's still no rehabilitation.

NATALIE WHITING: Another member of the Stolen Generation, Dawn Trevorrow, agreed more action is needed.

DAWN TREVORROW: I mean sorry's only a little word, but it should come up with actions and no actions have been taken, you know, especially towards compensation. I know that doesn't replace your mother and father and your language and your land and that, but it would be a wonderful thing.

NATALIE WHITING: There is currently a bill before the South Australian Parliament which would allow members of the Stolen Generation to received compensation without going to court.

The Greens and the Liberal Opposition are behind it, but so far the Government hasn't supported it.

The state's new Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Kyam Maher, was at the «apology» breakfast.

(Speaking to Kyam Maher) There was a lot of discussion about the work that needs to be done, some of it compensation, do you think that's something that the Government needs to be getting on board with?

KYAM MAHER: Look I have been and I'm happy to continue to talk to anybody who wants to talk to me about their views about what the next steps ought to be.

NATALIE WHITING: And do you think that should involve some form of state compensation?

KYAM MAHER: As I said, I'm happy to talk to everyone about what they think the next steps ought to be and I'll continue to do that.

NATALIE WHITING: If the bill passes, it will be only the second of its kind in Australia.


Similar legislation has been passed in Tasmania.

Compensation wasn't the only issue being discussed at the breakfast.

Former AFL star Michael O'Loughlin spoke and took the opportunity to call for constitutional recognition of Indigenous people.

MICHAEL O'LOUGHLIN: Look, it's something I absolutely believe in, it's something that my great mate Adam Goodes believes in and we think it's unjust and unfair that we, there's no mention of us in the constitution of Australia. So thank you.

(sound of applause)

NATALIE WHITING: He says he was honoured to return home and speak.

MICHAEL O'LOUGHLIN: Obviously coming back home to Kaurna country and being part of that, being I guess around my mob as well is very significant, to be here and to pay tribute to our survivors of the Stolen Generation.

NATALIE WHITING: Geoff Cooper says it's good to see progress being made, but he says far more work is needed.

GEOFF COOPER: Hell of a long way to go in my opinion yeah. And all we do is make sure that what happened to meself, you know, will never happen to my daughter.

PETER LLOYD: That's Geoff Cooper, a member of the Stolen Generation ending that report from Natalie Whiting.