You are here: Home / Media / Redfern out in force to watch apology, despite rain

Redfern out in force to watch apology, despite rain

The crowd was attentive while the PM gave the apology, and applauded loudly at his use of the word 'sorry' reports Simon Santow for the ABC on Wednesday 13th February 2008.

More than 1,000 people braved pouring rain to gather outside the local Community Centre in the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern to watch the national apology to the Stolen Generations on a giant screen.

They were at the local community centre, not far from the Block and from where Paul Keating gave his famous speech on reconciliation back in 1992.

There was of course a heavy representation of Indigenous people in the crowd but there were also people of all ages and all ethnic mixes.

Some were dressed casually and some were in suits, presumably on their way to work.

Three schoolgirls travelled to Redfern from one of Sydney's more affluent areas.

"We study our regional studies and also it's a day of history," one said. "We want to be here to see it happening. We support it really."

"I personally think it is a really important issue and it has been a long time coming and I just think it is really important that everyone gets to come out see it happen," another said.

"I think it is definitely a starting point to head towards the future because at least now we are heading towards a common goal ... for reconciliation."

Redfern's history

Residents viewed today's apology through the suburb's place in Aboriginal history, particularly in relation to the landmark Redfern speech by Mr Keating, 16 years ago.

In 1992, Mr Keating admitted wrong. He did not say sorry but he prepared the way for saying sorry.

Resident Shireen Malamoo says Prime Minister Kevin Rudd should be applauded for building on Mr Keating's work.

"The Labor Party had a big hand in these previous policies towards Aboriginal people," she said.

"You know what, Aboriginal people have always wondered about this cautiousness about the truth."

However she says Mr Rudd came to terms with the truth today.

"I think that was marvellous, that was marvellous, and people would be content,' she said.

However she says there is still the issue of reparation, and she is concerned that Mr Rudd stopped short of offering compensation.

"To a lot of people, sorry means reparation too," she said.

"It's a bit of a worry because that cautiousness if you like. But he should do it early in the piece because later on this would become an election issue.

"And if he is to show he is a leader - he will do the right thing."

Apology welcomed

But the crowd was very attentive while Mr Rudd gave the apology.

They were not afraid to give thunderous applause at parts of the speech, notably at the Prime Minister's apology and his repeated use of the word 'sorry'.

They also applauded when the Prime Minister called for an end to politicking and bickering and instead the adoption of a bipartisan approach to Indigenous issues.

However when former Liberal prime minister John Howard was shown in a historical video on the screen, expressing regret but not apologising, there were loud boos.

The crowd were not given the chance to react to Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson's response to the apology, because the event's organisers turned the sound down in favour of a live response from Sydney's Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

There was musical entertainment, people ate lunch while the children played, and the sun poked out from within dark grey clouds.