'Dawn of a new era'?: Media narratives of Aboriginal futures following the Apology to the Stolen Generations

Aboriginal Studies Press
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Does the media fail Aboriginal political aspirations?: 45 years of news media reporting of key political moments, 2019, 1st pp. 156 - 176
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‘The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future’. So said Kevin Rudd in his National Apology to the Stolen Generations on 13 February 2008—his first official act as Prime Minister of Australia. Between one in three and one in ten Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children were adopted to non-Aboriginal families or institutionalised as a consequence of the various regimes of protection and assimilation, beginning in the nineteenth century and accelerating in the twentieth in every Australian state, and the Northern Territory (Briskman, 2001). The NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs published a ground-breaking paper by the historian Peter Read in 1981. The Stolen Generation: The removal of Aboriginal children in NSW 1883 to 1969 marked the beginning of the end of the silence surrounding the history of the Stolen Generations in mainstream political discourse. The campaigns for justice which it started eventually produced the 1997 Bringing Them Home report, which recommended 54 reforms, including reparations and an apology (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997). Bringing Them Home’s recommendations shaped an era of political debate over why and how the government should make reparations for ‘the wrongs of the past’ (and, indeed, about whether those wrongs really happened).
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