Issue 1
Monday, 01 March 2021
Charles Darwin University
Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann speaking to media at the event
Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann speaking to media at the event

CDU marks National Apology

By Helen Pereira

The continuing impact of forcible removal policies on the families of the Stolen Generations has been highlighted as part of a Charles Darwin University event marking the 13th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations.

In Parliament on 13 February 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said sorry to acknowledge the pain and suffering caused to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by the forcible removal of children from their families, culture and country.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership and Regional Outreach Professor Reuben Bolt said that improving awareness of the history of the Stolen Generations was “extremely important”.

“We need to develop a deep understanding of the impact that forcible removal policies had on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities across Australia,” Professor Bolt said.

“Increased awareness of our shared past can assist Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities to move forward together.” 

“Marking the anniversary of the National Apology acknowledges the deep impact on our communities, and our identities, yet at the same time it celebrates the strength and courage of our Stolen Generation heroes,” he said.

Special guest speaker at the event was Senior Australian of the Year, educator, activist and artist Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann.

Dr Ungunmerr Baumann said much healing is still needed amongst Aboriginal people.

“There are a lot of sad things about our nation’s past that the nation has not yet healed. The wounds. There is still sadness in the hearts and lives of our people – because of the policies of forcible taking children away from their mothers and country,” Dr Ungunmerr Baumann said.

She encouraged all people - politicians, researchers and ordinary citizens - to sit and listen on country to fully understand the needs of Aboriginal people.

 “When are we going to start listening?  Come and sit with me on country. Come and sit and listen to what the needs are,” she said.

Dr Ungunmerr Baumann became the Northern Territory’s first fully qualified teacher in 1975 and has gone on to establish the Miriam Rose Foundation.

The Foundation works to improve the life of young people in the Nauiyu Community of the Northern Territory and to help them “walk in two worlds”.

Guests at the event included members of the Stolen Generations, Senator for Northern Territory, Malarndirri McCarthy, Member for Solomon, Luke Gosling, CDU Interim Vice Chancellor Professor Mike Wilson and former Australian of the Year, ANU Professor Mick Dodson.