Australian Prime Minister Apologizes to Aborigines

Article excerpt

A policy that sought to "save" Aborigine children by forcibly taking them from their parents spawned lasting trauma and resulted in a "stolen generation," Australia's prime minister said Monday in an apology.

John Howard offered his regrets personally, not on behalf of the government, for the policy that removed about 100,000 children from their parents between 1910 and the early 1970s in the belief that Australia's Aborigines were a doomed race.

Light-skinned Aborigine children were given to white families for adoption. Dark-skinned children were put in orphanages. "Personally, I feel deep sorrow for those of my fellow Australians who suffered injustices under the practices of past generations towards indigenous people," Howard told a national convention on reconciliation. "Equally, I am sorry for the hurt and trauma many people here today may continue to feel as a consequence of those practices." Howard's apology was the first by any elected leader for the policy, but it will probably leave critics wanting more. Aborigine leaders have pressed Howard to go before Parliament to apologize in the name of the government. Howard's apology initially drew strong applause from the nearly 2,000 convention delegates. But many booed and shouted when he added that "Australians of this generation shouldn't be required to accept guilt and blame for past actions and policy over which they had no control. …

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