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The Apology still resonates

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February 04, 2017

It’s been almost a decade since Kevin Rudd brought the country to its knees when he made a formal apology in parliament for the grief, suffering and loss past governments bestowed upon indigenous Australians.

As is now tradition, Shepparton will this year honour the Stolen Generations at its annual apology breakfast, marking nine years since the former Prime Minister’s iconic speech.

This year the event will be held at the Queen’s Gardens, with leaders from Shepparton High School to read The Apology.

Reconciliation Group Shepparton co-convener Dierdre Robertson said the event would consist of a smoking ceremony, a welcome to country, speeches and one minute’s silence for the Stolen Generations.

Ms Robertson said the focus had always been to include the region’s younger generations to promote education around the event.

‘‘The important thing is that our young people know the history of this country and understand about the impacts of previous policies and the impacts on the Stolen Generations,’’ she said.

‘‘To be a strong country, we need to understand all of our history, and acknowledge what’s happened, so it’s important to involve young Australians.

‘‘The apology was quite an emotional time for the country, and it was something that was well overdue and well needed,’’ Ms Robertson said.

Speaking at the event will be indigenous woman Khiara Harrison, 22, who wants her speech to reinforce the importance of The Apology.

Ms Harrison said the recognition made many indigenous Australians feel at peace that what occurred in indigenous communities had been acknowledged.

‘‘I remember how powerful it was and how emotional the actual day was for the indigenous community because someone had apologised for what happened to them,’’ she said.

‘‘While we still have a long way to go, I think having events like this every year remind the non-indigenous community what happened, which makes us feel at peace and feel supported.’’

City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Dinny Adem said the indigenous community was an integral part of the region.

Cr Adem said he had discussed a treaty arrangement with members of the indigenous community, and was supportive of pushing for one in future.

‘‘I have great support for them and what they’ve been through and I feel there’s a real need for reconciliation,’’ he said.

‘‘Australian culture should be based on indigenous culture, and it should be the foundation of our country.’’

The Shepparton apology breakfast will be held at the Queen’s Gardens on Monday, February 13 from 7.45am.

RSVP is necessary and those interested can register at www.nationalapologybreakfast. eventbrite.com.au

For more information, phone Dierdre Robertson on 58216600.

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