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A message from Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence on National Apology Day


13 February 2014

Six years ago today our national Parliament sought to help Australia turn the page of history by reflecting on and acknowledging past policies that harmed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities.

The Parliament of Australia said sorry to the Stolen Generation.

Today the University is flying the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander flags from the Quadrangle clock tower. This is a public signal of the value we place in reflection, in the potential of new thinking and in our commitment to a sustained contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education.

My thoughts today are with colleagues, and their families, who were directly impacted by these past policies and practices. Today gives you the opportunity to reflect on the pain of the past and provides cause for hope for the future of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people.

I encourage you to take some time to reflect on the Apology and our nation's optimistic reaction six years ago.

For many Australians the Apology was an admission of the government's responsibility for the trauma, loss and separation from family, community, culture and land that the Stolen Generations experienced and which continues to affect many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

The Parliament sought the opportunity for a future where the injustices of the past would not be repeated, where the determination of all Australians to close the gap was harnessed, and where new thinking, new conversations, and new solutions to enduring problems would emerge.

We take seriously our responsibilities to foster, support and carry these aspirations. Our Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu strategy outlines our efforts to contribute to the future that the national Parliament embraced: 'a future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country'.

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Jocelyn Prasad, jocelyn.prasad@sydney.edu.au, 0434 605018