National Apology Day is a time to reflect on the ongoing impacts and intergenerational trauma experienced by the Stolen Generations, their families, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Image: Close-up of the side profile of an Aboriginal woman with dark hair in a low ponytail and lines of white paint on her face and neck. Out of focus behind her, three people are illuminated in orange and purple light, holding instruments.
The National Apology formally acknowledged the injustices of past Government policies and practices that forcibly removed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, country and culture. It is a day to reflect on these past wrongs and consider how we might individually and collectively ensure the same wrongs don’t occur again.
This year, 2023, marks the 15th anniversary of the formal apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples made by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, on behalf of the nation, in 2008.
At Life Without Barriers, we believe that in order to achieve reconciliation, it is imperative that all Australians acknowledge the true history of our nation, and the damaging effects colonisation continues to have on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
What was the purpose of the National Apology?
Since colonisation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have experienced discrimination, unjust treatment, racism and abuse of their human rights. This treatment continued into the 19th and 20th centuries as a direct result of Government policies.
The National Apology acknowledged the long-term impact past laws, policies, and practices had upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly members of the Stolen Generations and their kin.
The National Apology was delivered by Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who also set an intention for a new future, where building a respectful new relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians and working together to close the gap would be at the forefront.
The National Apology was a momentous turning point, demonstrating the importance of acknowledging past wrongs in paving the road to reconciliation in Australia.
Image: Two adult women and three children walk across a sandy plain with their backs to the camera.
What is the difference between National Apology Day and National Sorry Day?
While both National Apology Day and National Sorry Day acknowledge the historical trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the two days mark different anniversaries.
National Sorry Day, held on May 26, marks the anniversary of the tabling of the Bring Them Home report in Parliament. The Bringing Them Home report documented the policies and practices that resulted in the forceful separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, to assimilate them into white Australian culture. Australia recognises these children as part of the Stolen Generation.
The report concluded that between one in three and one in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were forcibly removed from their families and communities between 1910 and 1970. There were 54 recommendations made in the Bringing Them Home report to address the wrongful treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
One recommendation was for an official acknowledgement and apology from the Australian Government for the laws and policies that removed children from their families. This apology was delivered after consultation with representatives from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
On 13 February 2008, the National Apology was publicly issued on behalf of the Federal Government to the Stolen Generations and the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
National Apology Day is the anniversary of when the Apology was given by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Australia continues to acknowledge National Apology Day as a reminder of what the spirit of the day offered, and as a reminder of the importance of recognition and truth-telling.
Image: A large group of people stand together outdoors. A woman in the middle is holding the Aboriginal flag.
Life Without Barriers' Commitment to Reconciliation
Life Without Barriers is committed to working with Aboriginal Leaders and community, Government, and non-government organisations to address the Closing the Gap priorities.
One priority is the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. With more than 20,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care, Australia risks repeating the past by removing more generations of children from their families.
Significant steps must be taken to reach the Closing the Gap target of reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care to 45% by 2031.
Life Without Barriers is a large provider of out-of-home care services for children and families and recognises our role in supporting the reduction of children and families entering the child protection system.
In 2021, Life Without Barriers announced our partnership with SNAICC - National Voice for our children and our commitment to progressively step away from the provision of out-of-home care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.
Our Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan highlights our commitment to being a partner with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, and our journey to achieve this goal in partnership with the community.
Image: Two young Aboriginal girls are sitting close together, playing in the water at a beach.
Read the 'Close the Gap' report
You can visit the Closing the Gap website to read the annual Closing the Gap reports. Take some time to reflect on the steps Australia needs to take to close the gap and how you can help.
Support campaigns from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lead organisations
Here is a list of campaigns run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations that you can act on to support reconciliation.
Anniversary of the National Apology – the impact to generations n...
Have we come far enough since the nation stopped to recognise a formal apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait...
Five campaigns you can act on to support Reconciliation
Reconciliation must live in the hearts and minds of all Australians.