Members of the Stolen Generations greet the Prime Minister after the Apology, 2008

Members of the Stolen Generations greet the Prime Minister after the Apology, 2008

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This colour photograph shows Indigenous Australian Elders and representatives of the Stolen Generations greeting Prime Minister Kevin Rudd after he had delivered the Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples in the Australian Parliament on 13 February 2008. From left to right are Lorna Cubillo, Valerie Day and Bob Randall. The woman embracing the Prime Minister is obscured. The Elders had seen and heard the apology from the distinguished visitors gallery of the House of Representatives.

Educational value

  • This photograph shows a significant gesture of respect towards Indigenous Elders during the historic Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples. Proceedings in the House of Representatives paused as the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs met with Elders sitting in the most prestigious area for non-parliamentarians in the Australian Parliament, the distinguished visitors gallery on the floor of the House.
  • Many Indigenous people present at Parliament House or watching on television reported emotions ranging from joy to anger at this point in the apology proceedings. They said they had been overwhelmed by the sincerity of the Prime Minister's apology, seeing it as the beginning of a process of national healing. They also indicated, however, that they had felt angered or shamed by the reply to the apology made by the Leader of the Opposition, Brendan Nelson.
  • Indigenous people had waited a long time for the apology by the Australian Parliament. The 1997 'Bringing them home' report into the Stolen Generations had recommended an apology be made by all Australian parliaments. By 2001 all state and territory parliaments had made apologies. However, the then prime minister John Howard had refused to apologise in 1997 when the report was released and he maintained that stance throughout his terms in office.
  • The Elders seen here all experienced the separation from their families described in 'Bringing them home' and all have been active in supporting other members of the Stolen Generations. Valerie Day, for example, has worked with the Northern Territory Government and the National Archives of Australia to preserve information and records that might help Indigenous people re-establish contact with their families.
  • Lorna Cubillo (1938-) has done much to bring the claims of the Stolen Generations before the Australian public. In 1996 she and Peter Gunner sued the Commonwealth for compensation for breaches of duty in detaining them in mission-run institutions. Cubillo had been forcibly removed from her family in 1947 and detained in a home operated by the Australian Inland Mission until 1956 when she commenced work as a servant in Darwin.
  • Bob Randall (1934-), an Yankunytjatjara Elder and a traditional owner of Uluru, has worked to support the Stolen Generations through his roles as teacher, leader and musician. Randall was taken from his mother at the age of 7 and detained at the Croker Island Reservation. He never saw his mother again. His song 'My brown skin baby' first attracted national attention to the Stolen Generations in the 1970s. In 1999 he was named Indigenous Person of the Year.