Address to Link-Up Sorry Day Livestream

26 May 2020

Thanks Pat, and hi everyone. Of course I want to join in acknowledging the traditional owners of the land where everyone is meeting virtually today, wherever you might be, and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.

I also want to acknowledge all of the elders past and all of the elders present, including those who might be watching the livestream today. It’s just wonderful to be here with Link-Up for this Sorry Day service. And like everyone else who’s spoken today, I just want to acknowledge Uncle Sam Watson Snr. He was such a giant and he made such a difference to everyone’s life. So I know that everyone’s very sad that he’s not here, but I would like to think that he would be proud to know that you’re continuing the work that he did.

I also wanted to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land of the site of the former Cranbrook House stood, where we usually gather for Sorry Day, and the family and descendants of the girls and young women who were taken there against their will and against their family’s will.

And I want to acknowledge, as well, that since the last Sorry Day there’s been some very grim times for First Australians. We’ve seen news about missing and murdered women, about over-incarceration, about child and youth suicide. And of course we’ve had all of this reported to us through the parliament in this year’s Closing the Gap statement which showed the woeful lack of progress. And I have to say that it’s been disappointing that calls for greater self-determination seem to be going unheeded some people, including those people who deliberately spread disinformation about the calls for a Voice and tried to describe it as a third chamber.

These are really strange times and, in important ways, they’re also really bleak times. And so it’s really heartening to get to see an organisation like Link-Up, that’s making such a difference in so many people’s lives.

Of course the Bringing Them Home report of 1997 recommended among other things that there be a national apology given, and as you know my predecessor as Member for Griffith, Kevin Rudd, gave the national apology back in February 2008.

But he knew, and everybody knows, that apologies are absolutely necessary but are not, by themselves, anywhere near enough. And so it’s the practical work of community that makes a real difference.

People working every day, bearing that difficult emotional work, bearing that huge responsibility to make a difference in people’s lives, and it’s people like Link-Up who do that.

So to Pat and to everyone at Link-Up, thank you for the work that you do. Thank you for the work that you do every day. We owe you such a massive debt of gratitude for the work that you continue to do in the interests of the entire nation but of course really supporting and helping members of the stolen generations to have reunions.

I can only just take my hat off to you, Pat. It’s incredible work and we are so grateful.

Thanks everyone - thank you very much for the opportunity to be part of this important livestream today on Sorry Day. And - please - I’m sure that everyone would join me in acknowledging the work that’s been done to put this on for all of us so that even despite covid-19 we can still come together in this way.