Kevin Rudd: Australians have a duty to admit their past crimes – and say sorry

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I recognise this is a difficult, complex and sensitive area of policy. But the nation must continue to lift its game in doing whatever practicably can be done to provide for the proper protection of children. Let us today, in this Great Hall of this great Australian Parliament, seize this day and see this national apology to our Forgotten Australians and our Child Migrants as a turning point for the future.

For child migrants, for many of you, your mothers and fathers were alive and were made to relinquish their right to be your parents and to watch you grow into adulthood. Some of you have said you would like to place the apology on the graves of your mothers and fathers back in England and on their graves here in this country as well. Today we dedicate this apology to them as well. For the Australian-born care leavers, or "Homies" or "State Wards" or the "Foster kids", the Senate named you the "Forgotten Australians".

Today, and from this day forward, it is my hope that you will be called the "Remembered Australians". The truth is, I cannot give you back your childhood. I cannot rewind the clock on your suffering. Nor can I erase the past. But what I can do with you is celebrate the spirit that has lived within you over the decades. A spirit that has stubbornly refused to be beaten.

A spirit that has turned you into the survivors that you are. The spirit that has enabled you to serve your country in times of war, even if you had been deserted by your country. The spirit that enabled you to bring up families, despite the broken families from which you came. The spirit that enabled you to work and to make your own contribution to this, our land Australia.

And the spirit that caused you to hold fast that one day you would be heard, one day you would be believed, one day you would be acknowledged. And that, one day, Australia's sense of a fair go would finally prevail. That our fair go would be extended to you, and that the nation would offer you the public apology that you deserve. My message to you today is: that day has finally come.

Let us now go forward together, go forward with confidence, go forward with confidence into the future – as equal, as valued and as precious members of this one great family that we call Australia.



Taken from a speech by the Australian Prime Minister in Canberra yesterday

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