Ten years on from the apology to the stolen generation

It has been ten years since the apology to the stolen generation.
It has been ten years since the apology to the stolen generation. Alistair Brightman

TEN years on from the apology to the Stolen Generation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Darling Downs still face discrimination, lower health outcomes and higher rates of suicide.  

University of Southern Queensland academic Raelene Ward, who has extensively researched suicide and health in Aboriginal communities in the region, said something more had to be done to address the gap.   

"I think over the last few years each of our communities in the Darling Downs and southwest Queensland have had more than their fare share of suicides," Mrs Ward said.  

"When you look at particular communities over time, I would dare say the statistics indicate that suicides have increased."   

The Kunja woman said the apology, made a decade ago today by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, was a momentous moment in Australia's history.   

"It was a process that was well and truly overdue and was long awaited by many indigenous people across the country," she said.  

"To come from our Prime Minister at the time was an important moment not just for reconciliation, but trying to heal and address some of those atrocities that happened in the past.   

University of Southern Queensland academic Raelene Ward.
University of Southern Queensland academic Raelene Ward. Tobi Loftus

"I think the apology at the time was historic, significant and impactful."  

She said she did not believe the apology had the flow-on effect people thought it would have at the time.  

"In regards to closing the gap, we do hear and see with the National Health Report Card that indigenous people with different levels of health, education, employment, suicide, those figures have changed slightly in some areas," she said.

"But it's not enough to make us all equal and to say that yes we do share the same health equality, that inequality still exists."  

Mrs Ward said racism was still rife in the community towards indigenous people, though more hidden and subtle, which also had an impact on health outcomes.   

A solution to closing the gap was not as simple as coming up with one universal method.  

"Solutions need to be adapted specifically for that community and for the needs of local people," she said.  

A special apology commemoration event is on at USQ today from 12pm to 1pm in room R113.  

Topics:  aboriginal issues close the gap kevin rudd stolen generation apology usq

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