It started with Tania Rossi, a lively and passionate Aboriginal woman. She is the great grand-daughter of Margaret Tucker, a notable Aboriginal activist whose autobiography, If Everyone Cared sold 20,000 copies, and was the first story by a Stolen Generations survivor to reach a mass readership. Tania Rossi is determined to republish the book including the parts of the manuscript which the publisher did not use, but which have since become of great interest.
Then John Bond, co-author with Aboriginal elder Brian Butler of Sorry and Beyond: Healing the Stolen Generations, told of the impact of the apology to the Aboriginal community by the Australian Parliament for the policies which removed tens of thousands of their children from their families. The widespread news coverage in Africa, Asia and the Middle East – places which normally ignore Australian news – showed that former colonies are intensely interested in a white leader’s apology for past wrongs to non-white subjects.
He was followed by Graeme Cordiner, author of Find Our Heart at Myall Creek. In this book, Graeme tells of his discoveries about Australian history which eventually led him to Myall Creek, site of a massacre of Aboriginal men, women and children in 1838. ‘Now that the Aboriginal community has received an apology for the removal policies,’ he said, ‘we need an apology for the hundreds of massacres which took place throughout Australia.’
In the free-flowing discussion that followed these speeches, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants shared their experience and ideas in the ongoing quest for truth, healing and reconciliation.