By Praveen Menon
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia on Monday pledged about $300 million to improve the life outcomes of its Aboriginal people, as the country marked 15 years since a national apology for forcibly removing indigenous children from families under age-old assimilation policies .
The government announced that $424 million ($293 million) would go towards “Closing the Gap”, including providing safe and reliable water to remote indigenous communities, building new homes, making essential food affordable and accessible , and support families affected by domestic violence. .
Australia’s approximately one million indigenous citizens have lived on the land for around 60,000 years but they rank well below national averages on most socio-economic measures and suffer disproportionately high rates of suicide, domestic violence and incarceration.
As many as one in three Indigenous children were removed from their families between 1910 and the 1970s to be assimilated into white society, an act which former prime minister Kevin Rudd described as a “tremendous stain” on the nation’s soul. during a formal period. apologize to the so-called ‘Stolen Generation’ in 2008.
In November of last year, the country was still failing to meet nearly half of its goals for improving the lives of Indigenous Peoples, including the problems of adult incarceration and suicide.
Speaking in parliament, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that the gap between the life outcomes of Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people is not only still there, but that some of them are increasing.
“These are not gaps, they are shackles. It is clear that there is not enough support directed at organizations to deliver to communities, said Albanaigh.
“It will be a long time before we can say that we have done enough, but we have to do this work together. Day after day, week after week,” he said.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton apologized for boycotting the national apology in 2008.
“I have apologized for that in the past and I apologize again today,” Dutton told parliament in his speech.
“I failed at the time to understand the symbolic significance of the Stolen Generation of Apologies.”
Albania is seeking bipartisan support for a landmark referendum this year to recognize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the constitution.
The referendum will establish a so-called Indigenous “Voice”, which can make representations to parliament on policies related to them. There is currently no mention of the Indigenous community in the Australian constitution.
“For all of us, I am optimistic about the success of the
referendum because I am hopeful that Australians will support truth, justice, decency and respect,” Albany told parliamentarians in the speech.
Australian First Nations people were not included in the census and were recognized as part of the Australian population until 1967.
($1 = 1.4468 Australian dollars)
(Additional reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Michael Perry)