This morning Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressed parliament with an emotional promise to end Aboriginal inequality. It comes 20 years after the release of the Bringing Them Home report into the separation of Aboriginal children from their families.
A fresh report was handed to the Prime Minister today from members of the Stolen Generations, calling for a national compensation scheme.
“There is much unfinished business. And today’s report will guide us on the progress we are yet to make,” the Prime Minister said. “As our Stolen Generations members’ age, your needs are changing. We will carefully consider the recommendations, and I want to thank you, all of you who contributed.”
It’s been 50 years since the 1967 national referendum that permitted Aboriginal people the right to vote. Mr Turnbull spoke about the trauma the Aboriginal people of Australia suffered at the hands of the Australian government before this milestone, and apologised once more to those a part of the Stolen Generation.
“Today, we again acknowledge those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were forcibly removed from their parents simply because they were Aboriginal,” he said. “Again we say sorry.”
Listen to the Mamamia Out Loud team debate the representation of Australia Day.
But the loss is deeper than even this. Mr Turnbull spoke about the desperate fight that’s currently underway to preserve the languages of Australia’s native people.
“I realise, not only have Aboriginal people been denied the right to their families, but we had denied them the right to their stories, their songs, their culture, their language,” Mr Turnbull said. “And all Australians lost from that.”
To illustrate the point, Mr Turnbull sung an ancient Aboriginal lullaby recovered by the Ngunnawal language group in Canberra – a group working to put together children’s books and short stories in native languages.
— ABC PoliPics (@ABCPoliPics) May 22, 2017
“Nudula nindi wurula bulu i bulu gun wurula bulu nura dula…nuru wurula guni,” the Prime Minister said. “‘I am rocking you slowly skyward…singing’.”
“It is heartbreaking to read those words – to speak them – knowing that a little baby was rocked to sleep by a mother who wanted no more than that her baby should be safe, comforted with a lullaby in her own tongue,” he continued.
“But that little baby was far from safe – nor was her mother, nor was the language in which she sang.”