Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

Australia in the 2000s

Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples

The term 'Stolen Generations' refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who were removed from their families by federal and state governments between the years 1869 and 1969.

The establishment of Aboriginal Protection Acts giving Boards and Protectors control over Indigenous people's lives, including the right to forcibly remove children from their families, has had ongoing devastating effects on generations of Indigenous peoples, giving rise to the term 'Stolen Generations'.

In the 1990s and 2000s, there was growing public sentiment by many Australians in favour of an official apology. However, John Howard and others strongly opposed it, and the Howard government disputed the validity of the term 'Stolen Generations' and rejected any government apology. When the Rudd government was elected to power in December 2007, it declared an apology would be one of the first orders of business in the new parliament.

The federal parliament's apology was given by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at 9:30 am on 13 February 2008.


A snapshot of 2008

  • January
    • The United Nations General Assembly chose 2008 to be the United Nations International Year of Planet Earth.

  • February
    • An official apology by the new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, to the Stolen Generations was made the first order of business of the new federal parliament.

  • June
    • Australia ended its combat operations in Iraq, withdrawing approximately 550 troops from the region.

  • July
    • World Youth Day (WYD), the largest youth event in the world, attracted 223,000 pilgrims to the event held in Sydney.

  • September
    • The Global Financial Crisis began having a serious effect on the Australian economy.
    • Quentin Bryce was sworn in as the first female governor-general of Australia.


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