Shamefully, it comes more than a decade after the Bringing Them Home report.
It’s very significant, it’s about time, and it’s (only) a start.
The sense of occasion around it has produced spaces in the cultural public sphere for the thousands of stories that have been told and retold, but not necessarily heard; in a way the speech itself is an act of listening.
A couple of personal remarks:
Earlier I was curious about how much anticipation of the event was building on YouTube; and of what kind.
Can you guess what the top result for a search based on the keywords ‘sorry Australia’ is?
I couldn’t bear to actually embed the image, let alone the video. I will have to think long and hard about the implications for my stubborn optimism about participatory culture.
A couple of videos that date from around the time I (probably, far too complacently) assumed a government apology would happen any day.
This is Keating at Redfern in 1992, a moment which feels slightly bizarre and tuneless to me now, not least because it is so very long ago; and politically, so very distant from where we are now. Notice the one and only audible burst of applause, at about 01:42 – you can probably skip to there:
And Archie Roach – another remembered moment from the early 1990s, which probably did more to sear the need for an apology into the hearts and minds of non-Indigenous Australians than anything else at that time:
It all seemed so much closer way back then than it did just a few short months ago. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.