License article

Spirits unsettled: the apology to the stolen generations 10 years on

For many of us Aboriginal people, significant dates begin to blur, because it’s not about one date it’s about a lifetime.

It’s actually 50 years on from the most fateful day for our family. It’s hard to imagine how life would have been if we had been allowed our natural course, to live on country and to be raised by family in our way.

It still haunts me to this day that when I first met my mother after being forcibly removed. I was afraid of her.

In the last few days, two of my older brothers have called me. A one-hour yarn with Mick. Forty minutes with Arthur. Our spirits are unsettled.

Outside interests want to continue a narrative. Australia is marking 10 years since the national apology and non-Indigenous Australia wants to know how we are feeling.

For us, prior to May 27, 1967, we were Mutti Mutti. We originated from our descendants from our family clans.


We weren’t Australians.

The angst that leads up to Apology Day.

The angst that leads up to Survival Day.

The angst that will fester again on May 26, Sorry Day.

The angst on June 5 when mum went to her dreaming.

The angst on May 25 when Dad went to his dreaming.

All these dates, they send shivers up your spine. Not just these dates either. It’s a culmination, a build up of sorrow because it’s continual.

Every day for Aboriginal people is a reminder of our loss and the lack of justice and understanding of the magnitude of what has occurred on the lands now called Australia.

May 13, brother Gook (Reg) and Nephew Greg.

September 9, brother Wally.

December 1, sister Alice.

This day, February 13.

Leading up to the "Sorry" moment, it was happy. Finally we’re getting recognition. Finally, not just for our family but for all the mothers and fathers and nannas and pops … for all us Aboriginal people across this sunburnt land.

Now... It’s really a negative now because there’s so much negativity surrounding this momentous moment in time.

It’s like … “So you got your apology… aren’t you happy now?”

It’s like the responsibility for people to feel good is on us as Aboriginal people. It’s like we’re the problem. We’re the inconvenient reminder.

Justice for us doesn’t stop and finish with a day. We live a continual existence. What exists is our people's spiritual world. Our existence as Aboriginal people is not a memory bank, it is a spirit. We carry the spirits of our ancestors. Our connection is before time began and so is the trauma of what’s been happening since 1788.

Our family story and the links to this day are 50 years old. The day the government and the police forcibly took us from our country and our parents.

So 10 years on, I’d like people to ask themselves: How do you feel things are for Aboriginal people? Have things changed and is there really a will to change?

There are many people with the best intentions. There are many causes we can support. The strength in anything we build is the foundations.

If this is to be a united country the first peoples of this place must be given time, opportunity and voice to have our stories told. Then we can stand strong and united and all call this place home.

Scars is the song that came to me over the weeks leading up to and after the apology.


As we gathered as one
​To hear the truth spoken
​Sorry days pass
​All those promises broken
​In search of the truth
​No more secrets to hide
​We must stand together
​Let no man
​Let no man
​Let no man divide
​In this land of dreaming
​Where sorrow takes its toll
​You will never see our pain
​The scars
​The scars
​The scars on our soul
​So come walk with me
Let’s not be torn apart
Let’s break the silence
Let’s break the silence
Let us listen with our hearts
In this land of dreaming
Where sorrow takes its toll
​You will never see our pain
​The scars
​The scars
​The scars on our soul

On behalf of the Edwards family, we would like to send our sincere condolences to the family of our dear friend, Michael Gordon, who came to our sister Alice’s home in Reservoir to sit and listen to our story in 2010. He went on to write an article about his experience. Thank you Michael, RIP.