Tamworth Aboriginal community remember emotional and significant apology day

LOOKING BACK: Aunty Yvonne Kent and Centacare Aboriginal engagement officer Rob Irwin says the day was a step forward but more healing was needed. Photo: Jacob McArthur 130218JMA01
LOOKING BACK: Aunty Yvonne Kent and Centacare Aboriginal engagement officer Rob Irwin says the day was a step forward but more healing was needed. Photo: Jacob McArthur 130218JMA01

ABORIGINAL elder Yvonne Kent said “stand up and ask for it” when it came to closing the gap in Indigenous inequalities.

It came as members of the Aboriginal community commemorated a tearful time time ten years ago when the-prime minister Kevin Rudd acknowledged and apologised for the mistreatment of Australia’s Aboriginals.

Aunty Yvonne Kent said she “bawled her eyes out”.

“That’s how emotional it was,” she said.

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“It finally recognised there was wrong done in this country.

“Today is just to celebrate Kevin Rudd had the guts, in a sense, out of all of the politicians to stand up and say sorry.

The local elder has seen a lot change during her lifetime, but said the next step was unite, “embrace our strong culture, that we are strong people and close the gap more”.

“One of the biggest things is in education and we’re getting quite a few kids go right through to year 12 and into uni,” she said.

“If you really open your eyes and look beyond, you can see what’s really happening that we are moving on and we are getting our children education, getting better health.

“All we need to do is stand up and ask for it.”

Centacare Aboriginal engagement officer Rob Irwin said it was a “hugely significant day” which signified a step towards healing.

“There were many, many tears shed, both in joy and in sadness on that day,” Mr Irwin said.

“Just about every member of the Aboriginal community that’s old enough to remember can remember where they were at that point.”Mr Irwin said the day signified a step towards healing.

“To me, personally, I am grateful to him, to Kevin, for being brave enough or talking his party into having it happen,” he said.

“Everybody’s family, my family, there are stories that relate back to stolen generation.

“Every member of the Aboriginal community has got a connection to the stolen generation and that is why the apology was significant.

“It was a step forward, there’s a lot more healing to be done, but at least we’ve started.”

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