On 13 February 2008, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a formal apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples, particularly to the Stolen Generations.
Now ten years later he looks back on the event with Living Black host, Karla Grant.
“We couldn’t get to the business of closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians until we had the guts from wider Australia to say sorry for the appalling treatment,” Rudd tells Grant.
“It was an elemental response as a human being, knowing how deeply we had wronged this country’s First People.”
It was Rudd’s experiences from his childhood and the inspiration of Gough Whitlam that led him to attend young Labor meetings from the age of 15 years old and then to join the Labor party some years later. He became Australia’s 26th head of government on 3 December 2007.
The National Apology was one of the first acts in Parliament Rudd accomplished when he was appointed Prime Minister. On 13 February 2008, he led the Apology for the “profound grief, suffering and loss” caused by passed policies.
Rudd addresses crucial issues facing Indigenous people in the NITV interview, including the Turnbull Government’s rejection of the Referendum Council’s proposal to have an Indigenous voice in Parliament.
“I don’t endorse Turnbull’s reaction at all,” Rudd says. “I know it’s pretty hard to get consensus among Indigenous leaders but when it emerges in the tone in which it was reflected in the document coming out of Uluru, my first response is, you treat that with a lot of respect, and secondly I ask myself, what’s wrong with a representative body if it’s powers are advisory? …
“I certainly don’t have any problems at all with the voice to Parliament. I think where my views have changed, and I’ve reflected this recently, is, I think we are on a trajectory towards a treaty. I don’t know when and I don’t know what, but I think we won’t achieve final reconciliation until that is done.”
Wednesday 7 February, 9pm on NITV.