• Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd reflects on the impact of his apology to First Australians (NITV)Source: NITV
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, calls for compensation for members of the Stolen Generations, seven years on from the historic National Apology
27 Jun 2015 - 11:37 AM  UPDATED 27 Jun 2015 - 11:37 AM

The new series of Awaken with Stan Grant returns with a candid interview with former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, on the seventh anniversary of the Apology to members of the Stolen Generations and revisits the issue of compensation:

“If we are now beginning to talk about the possibility of compensation for the individual victims of sexual abuse through the current Royal Commission in Australia…I think the time has also come for us to look afresh at how we compensate the members of the Stolen Generations as well.”

Speaking frankly with Stan Grant, Mr Rudd reveals his thoughts at the time of the apology:

“I had an idea of what an apology meant to me but I had no idea really as to what it would mean to Indigenous Australia.”

“I sensed I had a real job of advocacy...I had so many members of the caucus who were gently saying to me – are you sure this is the right thing to do as the first defining act of the government?”

“The miracle of the apology was not that the Prime Minister of the day delivered it… it was that the Indigenous leadership of the day, and still today, accepted the apology.”

In the wake of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s, Closing the Gap Report released last week, Mr Rudd shares his views:

“Ultimately I think we need to have sufficient respect for Indigenous Australians to make their own choices about their own local communities.”

“Secondly, because there is such an accumulated history of Indigenous disadvantage, I genuinely question the wisdom of withdrawing half a billion dollars from outlays for Indigenous Australians and to leave so many Indigenous organisations utterly stranded in terms of where their future funding comes from.”

"Ultimately I think we need to have sufficient respect for Indigenous Australians to make their own choices about their own local communities"

While recognising the improvement in Indigenous longevity, infant mortality and year 12 retention rates, Mr Rudd identifies the failures:

“…local literacy and numeracy, employment going backwards and not forwards and then you’ve got this emerging disaster of the incarceration rate just going out of control.”

“When Indigenous Australians are 23 times more likely to be in a prison than a non-Indigenous Australian, we have a problem - capable of undermining the rest.”

Looking to the future, Mr Rudd discusses the approaches he thinks are needed in addressing Indigenous disadvantage in this country:

“Continue to keep alive the spirit of the apology; two, not detach that from the substance of our action, as one leads to the other; three, the framework for Closing the Gap against measurable targets… these targets should be preserved; but fourthly, sufficient, consistency of funding in the long-term to enable local Aboriginal groups to undertake the local strategies which are best designed to contribute to positive outcomes.”