Tomorrow, the Prime Minister will say sorry to Indigenous Australians, and especially to the members of the Stolen Generations, on behalf of the Parliament and successive Governments.

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?

This 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.

2 thoughts to “Sorry”

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