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November 2009
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Kevin Rudd’s apology to the ‘Forgotten Australians”

Speaking to a crowd of 900 survivors of state care who had gathered in Canberra, Mr Rudd apologised for his country’s role in the migrations, which continued until the 1960s.

He also apologised to the 500,000 “Forgotten Australians” who were taken from their families and placed in care homes.
“We come together today to offer our nation’s apology. To say to you, the Forgotten Australians, and those who were sent to our shores as children without their consent, that we are sorry,” Mr Rudd said.

“Sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where so often you were abused. Sorry for the physical suffering, the emotional starvation and the cold absence of love, of tenderness, of care. Sorry for the tragedy the absolute tragedy of childhoods lost.”

Mr Rudd spoke specifically about the experiences of thousands of British children taken from their families and sent to Australia.

“We acknowledge in particular the children shipped to Australia as child migrants, robbed of your families, robbed of your homelands, regarded, not as innocent children, but sources of child labour,” he said.

“To those who were told they were orphans but were taken here without their parents consent, we acknowledge the lies you were told, the lies told to your mothers and fathers and the pain the lies caused for a life time.

“To those of you separated on the dockside from your brothers and sisters, taken alone and unprotected to the most remote parts of a foreign land, we acknowledge today that the laws of our nation failed you.

“And for this we are deeply sorry.”

Some in the audience wept openly as Mr Rudd shared painful stories of children he’d spoken with — children who were beaten with belt buckles and bamboo, raped and who grew up in places they called “utterly loveless.”

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