Most of us have an image of Australia as being a tolerant, progressive, multi-cultural society. However, it is only since 1970 that Australia abandoned its official 'white assimilation policy', which was initiated by Britain that bore a "heavy historic responsibility" for creating offices in Australia known as the 'Protector of Aborigines' which removed children from their families after 1910.
The Australian Labor Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, on Wednesday, gave the long-awaited apology to the country's aboriginal population cited the "profound suffering, grief and loss" inflicted on them by decades of abuse and mistreatment.
His words, contained in an Australian parliamentary motion, were directed to the "stolen generations" - the tens of thousands of mixed-race children taken from their families in a strategy of white assimilation only abandoned in 1970.
The children, mostly the offspring of fleeting sexual encounters between Aboriginal mothers and European fathers, were taken to orphanages, church missions or foster homes to be raised separately from their families and culture.
The practice was eventually abandoned in the 1970s, and 11 years ago a report entitled 'Bringing Them Home' recommended a formal apology to the stolen generation.
See his moving Parliamentary address, 'Australian PM Rudd says sorry to Aborigines' stolen generations' and the equally fine tribute of one Aborgine, Lola Edwards who was stolen and her long journey that ended in the Vistors' Gallery for the address.
Former Prime Minister, and fierce critic of Barack Obama, John Howard, one of the founding members of 'the coalition of the willing', refused to offer an apology, saying the current generation should not be held accountable for past misdeeds. He instead issued a statement of regret, saying he wouldn't go to Canberra to hear the address and declined to answer further questions.
I'm wondering one day, in the future if a American Democrat President will have to make an moving apology to the families of the Iraqi people of whom one million Iraqis have died and two million have become refugees, the benighted result of the paternalistic Bush policy of 'freedom assimilation' in Iraq.
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