Thousands of people have celebrated outside Parliament House in Canberra in the wake of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations.
Crowds in the Great Hall and on the lawns outside Parliament cheered and clapped after Mr Rudd said “sorry”, in scenes which were repeated at gatherings across the country.
In Canberra Aboriginal flags flew and Indigenous performers performed for the crowds, many of whom have travelled to the city specially for the occasion.
Dallas Wellington brought his young family from Jerringar Aboriginal community near Jervis Bay on the New South Wales south coast to witness the apology.
He says the apology is necessary for future generations.
“Everything is connected in our culture for Aboriginal people, the acts of the Stolen Generations have affected us so much that it will also affect our younger ones, it’s not just in the past, it’s here with us today,” he said.
Indigenous groups from across northern New South Wales say Federal Parliament’s apology to the Stolen Generations is a positive step forward.
Lional Curry of the Yugambeh/Bundjalung nation, whose mother was part of the Stolen Generations and was rescued from an orphanage by family members, says saying sorry as a nation eases the burden of past crimes.
“Well, I think that in terms of acknowledging it we don’t have to be up front about it so much any more and feel like we’re waving the flag,” he said.
“To say sorry, the dictionary definition it means that it expresses sympathy. So I think saying sorry really highlights that humanitarian trait.”
Meanwhile, local students at Northern Rivers public schools are also taking part in today’s national apology.
Students were given the opportunity to watch the apology being made, fly the Aboriginal flag or invite local Indigenous elders to schools.