From the Principal
For many in our community, especially those of a romantic inclination, Friday is a significant day as the feast of Saint Valentine. I think that there is very little interest in, or knowledge of, the third-century saint himself, but there is a lot of interest for those giving and receiving ‘Valentines’.
Rather than discuss ‘Valentine’s Day’ though, I prefer to focus on the day before, the 13th of February, for on this day our Federal Government gave an apology to Indigenous Australians who had suffered loss and hurt as part of the Stolen Generations.
Historic ill-conceived policies saw Indigenous children forcibly removed from their families, with the trauma of those actions spanning decades and remaining an unresolved blight on our nation’s history.
This changed in 2008 when the prime minister of the time, Kevin Rudd, formally apologised on behalf of the nation to those who had been affected by these actions – those who had been stolen and whose families had been left behind.
For those of us who remember that day, it was, for many, an exciting and uplifting occasion. What is probably most remarkable though was that the apology was largely accepted by those it was intended for. It is one thing to give an apology but quite another to have it accepted.
The hope felt that day was almost palpable but, sadly, progress on reducing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in key areas has been rather lacking. There remains a challenge for our national leaders to continue to work for progress in this area since Australia as a nation will never be all that it can be until all in our nation enjoy the same level of opportunity and support.
I spoke a little about the 12th anniversary of the national apology at our Senior School Assembly on Friday. I do not pretend to have adequately addressed the complex issues present in this area of our nation’s landscape, but I hope I drew the attention of students to the power of forgiveness.
There is great strength in saying sorry, and seeking to make amends, and even greater strength and courage in accepting what has been offered.
I hope and pray that one day all Australians of whatever background will see the reconciliation promoted on 13 February 2008 come to its full fruition.
Mr Peter Coffey