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We are seeing healing among the stolen generations, and initiatives which are enabling Indigenous people to make their distinctive contribution to our national life.
We are lagging far behind comparable countries in overcoming the disadvantages Indigenous people face.
Three years ago the Government announced the creation of Reconciliation Place, and said that it would include a memorial to those removed from their families. However, they refused to include any of those who were removed in the design of their own memorial.
There are no quick fixes to Indigenous poverty and social disaster.
Sorry Day falls on the eve of Reconciliation Week, giving us the chance to ask whether we are making progress in the wider challenge of reconciling Indigenous and other Australians.
Solutions will not be found while Indigenous people are treated as victims for whom someone else must find solutions.
Reconciliation requires changes of heart and spirit, as well as social and economic change. It requires symbolic as well as practical action.
People die because they find living too painful.
Over 120 Aboriginal communities run their own health services - some have been doing so for 30 years. They struggle with difficult medical problems. They also try to deal with counselling, stolen generations issues, family relationships, violence, suicide prevention.
Maoris now own over half the commercial fishing industry in New Zealand.
Last year the National Sorry Day Committee consulted with stolen generations people in every State and Territory, and concluded that programmes set up in response to the Bringing Them Home Report are reaching only a small fraction of those they are intended to help.
In the last twelve years, we have come some distance towards reconciliation and the breaking down of disadvantage. Let us take encouragement from what has been achieved and set our minds and hearts to end the remaining roadblocks.
If we had, we would have realised sooner that Indigenous organisations are sometimes not the appropriate channel for programmes to help the stolen generations, because many of them play little part in Indigenous associations.
Brother And Sister
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