THE National Sorry Day tree planting ceremony at Curtin University last Thursday was well attended, but an Aboriginal Studies lecturer says Australia still has a way to go before the true history of the Stolen Generation is completely appreciated.
Robin Barrington, a lecturer at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies and descendant of the Badimia Yamatji people of the Murchison region WA, said she felt disappointed there were still people who denied the Stolen Generation.
“Talking about it and acknowledging it is part of the process of healing, but of course there are still some deniers,” she said. “There are certain media commentators and politicians who question the truth behind the terrible things that were survived.”
While Ms Barrington acknowledged former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s public apology in 2008, she thought the curriculum in schools for Australian history should be altered.
“There’s been a lot of talk about whether children should be taught about Australian history as an invasion, rather than a peaceful settlement,” she said.
“My opinion is the same as Eddie Mabo when he was going through the courts for his recognition.
“It’s hard to understand why we’re having a debate as to whether it was an invasion; I don’t know how else to describe it.
“Settlement was based on the idea that the land was empty, and that’s clearly false. But I guess there are many different interpretations of histories.”
Ms Barrington said the flower planted at the ceremony – a native hibiscus – was the perfect choice.
“It’s very symbolic. It grows across Australia and had been approved by the National Stolen Generations Alliance as the symbol for National Sorry Day,” she said.