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Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Page: 1011

Mr MURPHY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade) (9:33 AM) —Firstly, I would like to recognise that this parliament meets on the traditional lands of the Ngunawal people. Today I rise to speak about the anniversary of the apology. It will be 12 months to the day on Friday, 13 February 2009 since the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Kevin Rudd, said sorry to the stolen generations. It is hard to believe that 12 months has passed so quickly since that historic day, when Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians gathered together to witness the delivery of one word: sorry. It was truly a memorable day. The Prime Minister moved the motion of apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples and it was unanimously supported. It was a day to reflect on our nation’s history and the mistreatment and injustices visited on our Indigenous community, one of the oldest continuing cultures in the world. As a nation we apologised for the pain and the suffering inflicted on many families who were torn apart by government policy. In my electorate of Lowe, Burwood Public School watched on television the Prime Minister’s motion of apology on Sorry Day. In response, year 2 decided to write their own letters to the stolen generations. I would like to share a few of these with other members of parliament today.

Alfred Zhang wrote:

Dear Aboriginal People,

I am sorry about the Stolen Generations taken from their mums and dads. I’m glad Kevin Rudd said sorry.

Jenny Wei wrote:

Dear Aboriginal People,

I feel so sorry for you because you lost your whole family when you were small. I hope one day you can find your family again.

Scott McVey wrote:

Dear Aboriginal People,

I am sorry that the past Government took the children. I am happy because we will be friends again.

These are the words of the future generation, and they are in the spirit of unification and friendship. I congratulate the students of Burwood Public School on their efforts. Next month I look forward to attending the Burwood Public School Harmony Day assembly to take part in a presentation of the letters, which were published by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to mark the anniversary of Sorry Day. A copy of the booklet will be presented to a member of the local Aboriginal community. It is fitting that the presentation will take place the day before Harmony Day. Harmony Day celebrates the cohesive and inclusive nature of our nation and promotes the benefits of our cultural diversity. The day promotes respect, inclusiveness and a sense of belonging. In the words of the Prime Minister, I trust we can move toward:

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia

I could not agree more. Well done to Burwood Public School.