Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Victor Dominello said National Apology Day was a time to focus on the future of reconciliation, healing and closing the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous
The Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples was delivered by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the Federal Parliament on 13 February 2008, acknowledging the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Islander people, in particular the Stolen Generations.
“Today, the sixth anniversary of the National Apology, is about acknowledging the past, celebrating the rich culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and supporting their vision for the future,” Mr Dominello said.
Mr Dominello said NSW was home to over 173,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, nearly one-third of the national population.
“Today is an opportunity for everyone in NSW to reflect on the meaning of reconciliation and celebrate all that is great about Aboriginal culture.
“We must focus on advantage – those things that make our Aboriginal communities vibrant and strong.
“It is the inner strength, cultural pride and resilience of Aboriginal people which will enable communities to drive solutions to the challenges faced.
“The NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal affairs, OCHRE, is symbolic as it was developed in partnership with Aboriginal communities, with the name ‘Ochre’ chosen because it signifies healing to many Aboriginal people.
“OCHRE initiatives focus on strengthening capacity in Aboriginal communities through education, employment, empowerment and healing.
“Initiatives including Local Decision Making, Language and Culture Nests and Opportunity Hubs focus on delivering sustainable change over a generation, with young Aboriginal people at its heart.
“Quantifying ‘the gap’ and setting targets is an important part of monitoring progress in outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders,” Mr Dominello said.
“The Closing the Gap report shows some improvements in child mortality rates and life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Rates of literacy, numeracy and Year 12 graduation have increased slightly, but are below targets.
“We must harness the significant goodwill across the Australian community, particularly where it exists in the education and corporate sectors, because school education and accessible employment opportunities are keys to progress.
“Reconciliation has many components and recognition of our First People in the Australian Constitution will be a significant milestone. I commend the Abbott Government for driving this landmark reform,” he said.