Australia's Day of Apology to the Stolen Generations

of its Indigenous Peoples - 13 February, 2008[1]


William Loader



The tears touch the red dust beneath our feet

changing the colour of our land.

The cries of children forcibly removed

and mothers running behind parting cars

echo today in Australia’s parliament.

The drought of denial is broken,

the stories heard at the highest level.

Old men and women, first peoples

- and some still in their thirties -

who bear the wounds, respond to heal the nation,

embracing the bipartisan apology,

bringing a coolamon, cradle for newborns,

container of nourishment,

to the heart of government,

a symbol of new beginning.


Rejoice, peoples of the world, in our tears!

Celebrate our pain, our being born again to new hope!

Watch over our grief and our setting out afresh

to bring justice and hope,

to walk and work with the ancient peoples of this land,

to rebuild a nation with reconciliation

and engagement which brings seeds to life,

sees the deserts bloom,

and builds firm trunks and mighty trees across our land.


The tears will dry.

The pain will always remain.

No equation can right the wrongs.

No need to fear or deny memory,

but only to welcome new possibilities,

let life burst from the burning,

fresh shoots from charred remains,

and the beauty of diversity and change

redress our ancient land.


[1] On this day, today, the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, supported by the Leader of the Opposition, Brendan Nelson, expressed an apology to the “Stolen Generation” of indigenous Australians removed from their families as a past government policy until the mid 1970s on behalf of the Commonwealth Parliament in its great Hall in the presence of members of the “Stolen Generation”. A symbolic act, it promises to be a major turning point in Australia’s development as a nation and the beginning of new bi-partisan initiatives to address the complex effects both of what was often well intentioned but ill-informed and destructive and of past and present injustices and inequalities.


This Poem will also be published in Expository Times 119.8 May (2008) with a Commentary.

Please feel free to use the Poem, with acknowledgement of authorship.