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Indigenous Australians say no changes since P -

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Indigenous Australians say no changes since PM's apology

The World Today - Friday, 13 February , 2009 12:39:00

Reporter: Brendan Trembath

BRENDAN TREMBATH: One year ago today, the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said sorry to Indigenous
Australians for the forced removal of children from their families.

KEVIN RUDD: As Prime Minister of Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the Government of Australia, I
am sorry. On behalf of the Parliament of Australia, I am sorry. And I offer you this apology
without qualification. For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their
descendents, and for the 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.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The apology was lauded around the world, holding out promise of a new era for the
treatment of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Among those who gathered in the Federal Parliament that day was Zita Wallace, the long-time head of
a support group for Stolen Generation members and their families in Central Australia.

More than 60 years ago, as a small child she was taken from her family outside Alice Springs and
sent to Melville Island.

Zita Wallace told The World Today what an apology meant for her.

ZITA WALLACE: It's um, it's really very important because for me personally, it means closure. Just
the words themselves are not going to make any difference really. It's what we hope that comes with
the apology.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: One year on and Zita Wallace says her hopes have not been realised. She told me
what had changed for her since that historic apology.

ZITA WALLACE: Nothing really. Nothing's happened.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: What would you have expected to happen?

ZITA WALLACE: When Kevin Rudd gave the apology a year ago, I was there in Canberra, I was in
Parliament. It was something that we'd all looked forward to. And he was so sincere I really
believed in my heart, and I think so did thousands of Aboriginal people around Australian that this
is it; that we're going to get somewhere, we're going to get recognition, especially the Stolen
Generation people because that's what it was all about. We got our apology but we haven't heard
anything since.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Knowing that, what do you think of the apology now?

ZITA WALLACE: Well I still really think that the apology, it had to happen. Without the apology I
think, you know, we wouldn't have got recognition. I mean Kevin Rudd's got worldwide recognition
for him for saying sorry to us, and he's now known throughout the world as the Prime Minister who
said sorry to his Indigenous people.

But where do we go from there? You know, it's not really good enough just to say sorry. You have to
follow through. To me and to thousands of Stolen Generation people that means compensation. We are
people who were wronged. I think that we're entitled to compensation. It's been recommended by the
Senate last year and it's been recommended by Harold Wilson, many, many years ago in the 54
recommendations and no-one's paid any attention to it. It's just all been shelved and collecting

BRENDAN TREMBATH: What would you call on Kevin Rudd to do now?

ZITA WALLACE: He should follow through and do something else for us. I think he did state in his
speech that there wouldn't be compensation, but there are other means of helping our people besides

No funding whatsoever has been given to the Top End or Central Australia, to the Stolen Generation
Corporations to assist them in any way. All we get is moneys to run a link-up service but no moneys
as such to help Stolen Generation people.

And that means, like for assistance, funerals. Whenever there's funerals, we've got to find money
elsewhere to try and help our people.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Zita Wallace, have you noticed being treated differently at all since the
apology, by other Australians?

ZITA WALLACE: My dealings with other Australians have always been on good terms so I have many,
many friends of all races. I have not been treated any differently by them. It's only the
Government who has treated us differently.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Well Zita Wallace before we leave you, is there anything else you'd like to say
about a year since that amazing day when you were in Parliament House?

ZITA WALLACE: Yes, it was an amazing day and when I went there and I looked in and saw all the
Aboriginal people and non-Indigenous people there in Canberra and so united, it was absolutely just
magic; it really was. And it's a shame that Kevin Rudd's just let that go and nothing's happened
since. It really is a shame.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Zita Wallace, who until recently chaired a support group for Stolen Generation
members and their families.