The following speech was delivered by Harold Haig on behalf of the International Association of Former Child Migrants and their Families at the Canberra event on 16th November 2010, marking the first Anniversary of the Australian Government's national apology:
“Minister Macklin and invited guests,
Thank you for your invitation to say a few words on the first Anniversary of the Australian Government's national apology to former Child Migrants and Forgotten Australians.
There have been many developments over the past 12 months. Much work has been devoted to ensuring the apology has a more direct and meaningful impact on our daily lives. For example, there have been many consultations and focus groups across Australia covering a wide range of issues.
Attention has been given to historic and cultural matters as well as the present and future services required by the child migrant and wider community of care leavers.
Only last week, I attended the opening of the first major exhibition on Britain's Child Migrants at the Australian National Maritime Museum. This will help to raise the profile and public awareness of child migration and its’ terrible consequences for too many.
Reconciliation, redress and recognition all emerge from coming to terms with a nation's shameful past. In our case, this involves at least two nations. Picking up the pieces of the damage caused to so many is not easy for anyone - including those who are now mandated to address our concerns.
Of course, while trying to get it right, we may also get it wrong. Not only do we have to actively listen to the survivors' testimonies and their raw feelings, but we have to make sure we REALLY hear.
The politics of recognition and redress is a global movement. Australia is not alone on this issue. Many countries have had to go down this same long, hard and bumpy road.
We still have a long way to go - but today is an important milestone on that necessary journey towards reconciliation.”