13 February 2018

Ten years ago. My family's and I were grieving for the loss of my mother. She had died 6 months earlier and had been on dialysis. She'd been on dialysis for quite some time a number of years actually. In that same year just prior to the apology and the first Close the Gap my brother, cousin brother died as well, and he was in these 40s. So our families where were still grieving and sorry business.

In February 2008 when the Australian Parliament navigated through incredibly complex political walls, hard hearts, deaf ears to persevere, to do what no other Parliament in the history of the Australian Parliament had done. That was to stand and apologise, to say sorry, for policies by previous Parliaments, by previous politicians that had moulded and shaped the torturous at times, confusing frustrating future for Aboriginal in this country.

So on that day in February 2008, in the Northern Territory Parliament Stolen Generations members gathered. To witness what they couldn't see in person. What many couldn't make the journey to travel here to this Parliament and while those Stolen Generations members removed from their homes and Country sat in the that Hall they watched family members, people they knew people, enter the halls of this Parliament and they watched on the lawns out the front of Parliament House with thousands and thousands of Australians. Walked, drove, flew to come for that moment in our history which we must always hold on to that moment of the incredible generosity of spirit of the Stolen Generations. To receive the words I'm sorry, this Parliament says we are sorry.

It's that generosity of spirit Madam Deputy President that we all need to call upon and reflect upon.

And I pay tribute to the elders of this Country the Traditional Owners the Ngunnawal and Ngambri Peoples bajinda yamaluinda ngarra li-anthawirriyarra [Paying respects to Traditional Owners as a Yanyuwa woman from Borroloola] from my peoples the Yanyuwa in the Gulf Country because I know that when this Parliament which represents the Australians people comes together on this day to seek a better future for the First Nations People, we must do it with a generosity of spirit. We must allow the memory of this day to enable us to still persevere, to still strive to work together because we know that there are big systemic issues facing Indigenous people across this country in various places - remote, rural, urban.

Close the Gap has a face, my family, my extended families, the Yanyuwa, the Garrawa, the Mara and the Gudanji peoples.

They are the people, the faces of Close the Gap.

Senator Dodson and his family and his people and the people that he represents they are the face of Close the Gap.

The Member for Barton, Linda Burney in the House of Representatives, the first ever Indigenous woman, to stand in the Parliament where the Prime Minister said sorry. She is the face of Close to Gap, her family, her children.

And Ken Wyatt Minister Wyatt and his family and extended families and his history that is the face of Close the Gap.

So when members come into these Parliaments, all of the other house to talk figures and statistics they are our figures and statistics.

If I came in here to talk about your family, how would you feel?

Each year standing here wondering if your family are going to have their children finish high school, wondering if your family are going to go on to jail, which is what is expected, if your family are going to have a future on dialysis, if your family are going to have employment opportunities on CDP to look forward to for those who can graduate.

Thats what we are talking about here. This is the human story of Close the Gap it matters, it matters that this Parliament takes it seriously.

When the Minister stands up and talks about all these things. I know Minister Scullion, I have seen him and worked with him over many years, and I dont to ever doubt the good intent behind what he tries to do. But he's not really the problem it's the rest of you it's the rest of you. It is the rest of you that sit in that cabinet that sit beside him, where is your willingness to Close the Gap? To provide the housing instead of providing excuses?

I'm immensely proud of Labors plan to establish a Stolen Generations scheme for members of the Stolen Generation in the Northern Territory and here in the ACT. We will offer when we come to Government payments of $75,000 to living Stolen Generation survivors who were removed from their families and committed to the care of the New South Wales Aborigines Protection or Welfare Boards.

We will provide a funeral assistance Fund which provides a one-off payment of $7,000 to Stolen Generations survivors to assist with the cost the funerals. This scheme will cover approximately 150 surviving members of the Stolen Generations, and it's really sad because three weeks ago I buried my cousin. He was a Stolen Generation member, and he will never get to see that support. But he did get to see the Apology.

When Australians came together on the 13 of February 2008, they came together in this House, and there were many members on that side who didn't want to know the Apology. I hope you might be able to reflect on where you were ten years ago and where your spirit of generosity is this day because it was that gathering of all Australians who said this is the right thing for this parliament to do and as one heartbeat have country come together.

Let's hold on to that.

Always remember that and that is the spirit of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, of this country that lives on every time and every year we stand to Close the Gap.

Clickhereto watch the speech.