A PROMINENT Aboriginal Catholic has advised the new Federal Government to get on with saying “sorry” to indigenous Australians rather than spending any more time talking about it.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC) executive secretary Graeme Mundine said the sooner this happened the better for all concerned.
However, he warned that saying “sorry” had to be backed up with a commitment to improve the health and living standards of Aborigines.
Mr Mundine’s stand has been supported by Bishop’s Commission for Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders chairman Archbishop of Perth Barry Hickey.
Mr Mundine noted that while the Labor Party was in Opposition its policy had been that an apology to the Aboriginal people needed to include the word “sorry”.
The NATSIEC executive secretary was responding to a recent media report that the Federal Government was going to use the word “sorry” when apologising to the stolen generation.
He said “sorry” should definitely form a part of the apology.
Archbishop Hickey said he believed that the Federal Government should express sorrow that “terrible things happened to Aboriginal people, and continue to happen in many communities”.
“In the past, I have publicly expressed sorrow for many things that happened in the Church’s involvement with Aboriginal people, such as the absence of family ties, the loss of personal names, and the lack of involvement in the management of the missions,” the archbishop said.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin, when discussing the timing of the apology, said it would not be made on Australia Day.
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