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Australia's apology to Stolen Generations: 'It gave me peace'

From BBC - February 12, 2018

Ten years ago, Aboriginal Australian Ian Hamm welcomed words he had been waiting a lifetime to hear.

"For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendents and for their families left behind, we say sorry," Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, said in parliament.

The apology on 13 February, 2008, referred to a shameful national chapter in which indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families.

Mr Hamm was among them.

As a three-week-old baby in 1964, he was taken from his Aboriginal family by government officers and adopted into a white community.

Tens of thousands of other indigenous children were removed over successive generations until 1970, under policies aimed at assimilation.

Mr Hamm said Mr Rudd's historic apology helped changed his own sense of identity.

"My country does not argue about me any more - it gave me peace that my story, like so many others, was not a matter of debate," he told the BBC.

"I remember writing out my feelings the day after the speech and I called it: 'Today is the day I wake up.'"

What the apology said

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

'Keep going'

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