Parliament House in Canberra

Newscaf: Apology to the Stolen Generations

The National Apology was ten years ago
 Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: this article may contain names, images or voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered the National Apology to the Stolen Generations ten years ago, on 13 February 2008. The formal apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples in Federal Parliament aimed to redress the policies of past governments which included the forced removal of children from their families.

Through our relationships with Australia's television broadcasters, and the Newscaf 'News and Current Affairs Program', the NFSA has collected and preserved a number of videos that recorded this significant event in Australia's history. 


The day before the Apology

 Opening of the 42nd Parliament, Ten News Brisbane, 12 February 2008. NFSA title: 758031. Courtesy: Network Ten.

There was a sense of great anticipation across the country from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians leading up to the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. The day before, the opening of the 42nd Australian Parliament included a Welcome to Country by Ngambri elder Matilda House Williams. This was the first time such an event had been held since Federal Parliament first met on 9 May 1901 in Melbourne. It set the tone for the apology itself the following day, the words of the prime minister's speech having already been provided to the media.

Apology Day

National Apology to the Stolen Generations, Ten News Brisbane, 13 February 2008. NFSA title: 758035. Courtesy: Network Ten.

'Mr Speaker, I move: That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.' So began Prime Minister Rudd's speech apologising to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Australian Government, largely written by the prime minister himself. Many Australians were waiting to hear one word in particular: 'sorry'. That moment was powerfully captured by television broadcasters.

National Apology to the Stolen Generations, Ten News Brisbane, 13 February 2008. NFSA title: 758035. Courtesy: Network Ten.

This broadcast clearly captures what it meant for Indigenous people to hear the prime minister's speech. High profile Indigenous Australians interviewed on the day included tennis champion and Wiradjrui woman, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, and country musician Troy Cassar-Daley. It was by all accounts an historic moment for Australia.


Newscaf highlights some of the significant and intriguing stories in the NFSA's television news collection that have been digitally preserved for future generations to enjoy and explore.

See more Newscaf stories.