THE Dhudhuroa community’s Chris Thorne and Bangerang community’s Wally Cooper have encouraged fellow indigenous people in Wangaratta, Benalla and the North East to turn Cathy McGowan’s Wednesday apology to Indi’s indigenous communities to practical use – by talking about it.
Mr Thorne, Central Hume Health Care Partnership’s Aboriginal community development worker who interacts daily with indigenous people in Wangaratta, Benalla, Myrtleford, Mansfield, Bright and Mount Beauty in his role with the partnership’s ‘Closing the gap’ program, said that Ms McGowan’s apology, delivered in federal parliament, was significant because it was local.
Ms McGowan deliberately repeated the words used by then-prime minister Kevin Rudd in 2008 when she made her speech.
“During the (election) campaign I made a commitment to come to this place, the parliament of all Australia, and make a formal apology on behalf of the people of Indi, because, sadly, the people of Indi were not represented in this parliament in 2008 when the former prime minister made the national apology,” Ms McGowan said.
Former Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella, who was the Member for Indi at the time and whom Ms McGowan last year defeated, boycotted Mr Rudd’s national apology.
Ms McGowan apologised to Indi’s stolen generation – those taken from their families and put into state or institutional care or placed with foster parents – and for “indignity and degradation inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture”.
Her speech was timed to take place in the same week as Sorry Day, marked last Monday, by which commemorates Australia’s regret for the policies and actions that created the stolen generation.