Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 20, 2024


Apology Day 2024

The Hon. T.T. NGO (15:33): My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Can the minister tell the chamber about last week's Apology Day 2024 community event at Veale Park?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:34): I thank the honourable member for his question and note his very keen interest in the area of Aboriginal affairs, demonstrated, of course, by his long-time stewardship as the Chair of the former Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee.

On 13 February 2008, the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, delivered a well overdue apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who were removed as children in what we have come to know in Australia as the stolen generations. This was something that most state parliaments had done many years before.

Back in 1997, when the Bringing Them Home report was laid on the table in the federal parliament, South Australia, two days after that happened, had an apology by I think then Aboriginal affairs minister, Dean Brown, on behalf of the South Australian people for the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were members of the stolen generations.

It was some time, more than a decade, after that, despite very long and loud calls from members of the Aboriginal community, that on 13 February, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered that apology on behalf of the Australian people in the federal parliament. Each year since then, right across Australia, there are events held to remember that anniversary and the poignancy of that day when the apology took place.

Like years before, remembering the day that the apology occurred in South Australia was a very significant day for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. There is a walk from the centre of the city to Veale Park in the South Parklands, ending with a community event organised to commemorate the apology and create a space for community to come together to heal and reflect.

Once again, I will acknowledge it was good to see bipartisan support for this. Again this year, the member for Heysen, Josh Teague, the shadow minister for Aboriginal affairs, was in attendance at the event. It was an honour once more to be able to speak at the event and provide my personal reflections on how important that apology was to Aboriginal people in South Australia, particularly having been at Elder Park on 13 February 2008 amongst so many members of the stolen generations when the apology was originally delivered.

Of course, it was a good opportunity to talk about the next steps we are taking in South Australia, South Australia being the first mainland state to provide a reparations scheme for members of the stolen generations back in 2015. I thank those who were involved in the event held in the South Parklands on 13 February, and I certainly intend to attend future anniversaries when this day is remembered in South Australia.