After Governor Bourke’s Proclamation of Terra Nullius on 10 October 1835, conflicts arose between the owners of the Australian land and the migrants. The doctrine of terra nullius had displaced the Indigenous Australians from their occupancy of the land and denied their ownership (The Migration Heritage Centre, 2011). The conflicts worsened when the White Australia Policy was implemented. The Indigenous families became broken because the children were forcibly removed from their parents. The government tried to transform the Indigenous children and assimilate them with the White Australian culture which consequently abolished the children’s ability to practise their own culture (Krieken, 1999). The mistreatment towards the stolen generation was a shameful history of Australia and the government promised that the injustice will never happen again.
Now that the Australian government has admitted the mistakes of past governance, series of reconciliation efforts were implemented to close the gap between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous group. Consequently, in 2008, they decided to make a public apology as the word ‘sorry’ is highly valued in the Indigenous people’s culture as claimed by Purdie, Dudgeon & Walker (2010). The historic event was important to mark the end of the Indigenous people’s hardships and reconcile the relationship between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups. By correcting the wrongdoings of the past generation, the government hopes to unite all Australians and move together to attain a brighter future (Auguste, 2010; Welch, 2008).
Therefore, this essay analyses the Australian government’s efforts in bridging the gap between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups and the outcomes after the national apology in 2008. It is argued that there are insufficient initiatives by Australia’s government based on the current conditions of the Indigenous people. The process of creating egalitarian multicultural society in Australia not only requires the Indigenous people to self improve, but also the government plays a critical role to help the disadvantaged group in achieving the goal. To evaluate this claim, first, the text of apology by Kevin Rudd will be analysed. Then, the actions taken by the government will be evaluated together with the progress on impact towards the Indigenous group after the implementations.
On the 13th of February 2008, then-Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd (2008) delivered a formal speech to apologise for the extreme damage towards the Indigenous group specifically to the stolen generation. In the speech, the government promised to address the discrepancy between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous group focusing on education, life expectancy and economic opportunities. The government aimed to create an egalitarian Australian society where equality is practised regardless of their backgrounds. In addition, values on mutual respect and responsibility in the Australian society should be instilled besides addressing the unresolved issues through better solutions (Rudd, 2008).
The promises made in the speech are aligned with the process of developing Australia as a multicultural society whereby each society stands on the same level and plays distinct roles towards the country. According to Jupp (as cited in Babacan &Babacan, 2007), multiculturalism is the public acceptance of distinct communities in the majority society who own different language, culture, social behaviour and social infrastructure. Embracing the diversity in every aspect harmonically, a multicultural society shall not allow any members of the society to be disadvantaged (Henry &Kurzak, 2014). These responsibilities are meant to be shared in the society with the government’s assistance to evolve Australia as an egalitarian multicultural society.
The Australian government had implemented the ‘Closing the gap’ strategy as an action framework to improve the conditions of Indigenous people which covers three