Reconciliation is 'eminently achievable,' says Rudd ahead of apology milestone


Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said reconciliation between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians was "eminently achievable".

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of his National Apology to Indigenous Australians, Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd urged policymakers to redouble efforts to achieve reconciliation.

"A reconciled Australia, where black and white Australians are equal partners in our nation's future is indeed eminently achievable," Mr Rudd said at an address to the National Press Club on Monday.

"It is not the stuff of idle dreamers. We've actually made progress on this road. We are actually bending the arc of history together. Change is possible. And on this, we should be encouraged."

Mr Rudd said policymakers should be "equally mindful of where we have also failed, where progress may have been scant, where much, much more remains to be done".

Tuesday marks 10 years since Mr Rudd apologised to Indigenous Australians for the "profound grief, suffering and loss" caused by past government policies, especially the removal of children from their families.

Mr Rudd also used the National Press Club address to defend his 2008 Closing the Gap targets. This came after the government announced on Monday that only three of the seven current targets are on track to be met.

"Closing the Gap is the engine room of reconciliation. It's where real things change in Indigenous lives, or don't change," Mr Rudd said.

"Much has been written about Closing the Gap in recent times, much of it negative ... My response is simple - these targets were meant to be ambitious. They were meant to challenge us all."

"Because we had to shake ourselves out of our national torpor that business as usual was fine. Or we could just fiddle at the edges of Indigenous disadvantage."

Mr Rudd said the targets were put in place to "actually measure what we (are) doing ... It's all about being clear about where we are succeeding and where we are failing".

In a separate doorstop interview on Monday, Mr Rudd accused the Turnbull government of "ripp(ing) half a billion dollars off the table" in efforts to achieve Close the Gap targets.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivered the 10th Closing the Gap address to Parliament on Monday.

Mr Turnbull said the targets to halve the gap in Indigenous child mortality rates and Year 12 attainment as well as enrolling more children in early education were on track to be met.

But the targets to close the gap in life expectancy, employment and literacy and numeracy rates will not be met at current rates.

"Too often we are quick to highlight the despondency," Mr Turnbull said.

"The solution to closing the gap rests within the imagination, ingenuity, passion and drive of Indigenous people themselves."

The government also unveiled a new Indigenous Grants Policy, which aims to increase the number of Indigenous owned and controlled organisations involved in service delivery.

In responce, opposition leader Bill Shorten committed to a compensation scheme to assist survivors of the Stolen Generation.

"It's time the Commonwealth lived-up to its rhetoric," Mr Shorten said.

"To each of the survivors removed from their families, country and culture we will offer an ex gratia payment of $75,000."

The $9 million fund would be complemented by a $7.5 million National Healing Fund, which would go towards families of Stolen Generation survivors.

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