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Australia Says Sorry to Aborigines for Mistreatment
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, February 13, 2008
Posted: February 25th, 2008

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd opened a new chapter in Australias tortured relations with its indigenous peoples on Wednesday with a comprehensive and moving apology for past wrongs and a call for bipartisan action to improve the lives of Australias Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. This was Government business, motion No. 1, the first act of Mr. Rudds Labor government, which was sworn in Tuesday after a convincing electoral win over the 11-year administration of John Howard, who had for years refused to apologize for the misdeeds of past governments. Mr. Rudds apology was particularly addressed to the so-called Stolen Generations, the tens of thousands of indigenous children who were removed, sometimes forcibly, from their families in a policy of assimilation that only ended in the 1970s. We apologize especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country, Mr. Rudd said. For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry. Mr. Rudd recognized that the apology itself was symbolic. [He] suggested a war cabinet on indigenous policy. And there are deep challenges. Many indigenous Australians live on the margins of society. Aboriginal life expectancy is 17 years shorter than for other Australians, indigenous unemployment runs three times the rate of the country as a whole and the incidence of crime and alcoholism is significantly higher in indigenous communities.

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