Call to walk the talk

February 10, 2018

This Tuesday will mark 10 years since Kevin Rudd made a formal apology in the Federal Parliament for the grief, suffering and loss past governments bestowed upon indigenous Australians.

As is tradition, Shepparton will honour the Stolen Generations at its annual apology breakfast, this year reflecting on what has been achieved in the 10 years since the iconic speech.

Reconciliation Group Shepparton co-convener Dierdre Robertson, who helps organise the event each year, said the apology had been a defining moment in Australia’s history, but as each year went by, Aboriginals and the wider community were reminded of how little change had actually occurred.

The apology gave a truth to what families and the community had suffered at the hands of the governments, and a promise that things would improve.

‘‘There was so much promise because it was an apology but also a commitment to work together for a better future for all Australians,’’ Ms Robertson said.

‘‘But what we have found in the last decade is that it’s easy to say these fine words, but of course the proof is in the pudding and you have to walk the talk to make a difference.

‘‘So now, when you look at the results, it has been very dismal.’’

The Close the Gap Statement of Intent was signed by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition leader Brendan Nelson in 2008.

The statement, which came shortly after the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, was to be the start of a true partnership to bring about real and sustained change.

The subsequent Closing the Gap Strategy, launched in 2009, was to be the vehicle that would deliver that change.

In attendance were Renai Dean and Fran Smullen, who were Shepparton co-conveners at the time.

The women will this year be speaking at the Shepparton breakfast, where they will reflect on the past 10 years, and what changes must be made going into the future.

The ceremony will be attended by the region’s primary and secondary students, ASHE students, the mayor and councillors and Aboriginal elders.

A reading of the apology will be conducted by McGuire College students Marwa Admed and Nini Jumapili, and guest Christopher Walker will make a speech to mark the day.

The greater Shepparton community is invited to attend the event on Tuesday, February 13, at the Queen’s Gardens in Shepparton. Guests must register and arrive at the event at 7.45am for an 8am start.

For more information, phone Dierdre Robertson on 58216600.

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