CQ elder reflects on Apology Day, 'no one is going to fix things for us'
ON FEBRUARY 13, 2008, Poyana "Poy” Pensio was in Canberra.
He witnessed then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd step up in Parliament, address the nation, and apologise for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that had inflicted grief, suffering and loss for generations of indigenous Australians.
Poy's passionate reflection on the event, and the days since, was palpable, emotional and delivered with incredible strength.
"Emotion ran through us that day,” Poy said.
"There were elders from all over Australia there to witness how to make wrong, right.
"I witnessed the elders crying. They cried for joy, and the hurt and the pain they had.
"(They cried) for the people that went and fought from the beginning of Australia, to the very day that the government said 'sorry' for mistreating us.”
Today marks the ninth anniversary of the National Apology to Australia's First Peoples - a sacred moment in our nation's history that must never be forgotten.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, it was a day to start healing from the past government policies that saw Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders removed from family, culture and the land they had protected for so many years.
But while promises were made nine years ago, rapid progress has not necessarily been made.
Despite some improvements, vast health, education and life-expectancy inequality continues to exist between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
And Poy said there remained a lot of frustration on just how to address that gap.
Mainstream services that cater to the broader community do not always provide treatment, education or therapy to indigenous Australians in a way that is culturally acceptable, appropriate or accessible.
"I think the positive note that I want to go forward on is, (the apology) was an opportunity for the non-indigenous to understand the indigenous people of Australia, the custodians, but also to respect and understand that we need to do things our way,” he said.
"We need to be resourced so we can do things for ourselves, in health and education and employment.
"We can't dwell on the past, we need to now move forward... no one is going to fix things for us, we need to do it ourselves.”
Poy, the co-ordinator of the Binbi Meta program at Bidgerdii, encouraged anyone struggling with the hurt and suffering from the Stolen Generation, or past government policies, to come to the Bidgerdii Wellness Centre at 3/287 Richardson Rd.
The wellness centre has been set up as a safe place to come together and yarn about past hurt, and support anyone who has been affected by the past removal policies and inter- generational trauma.
If you need or want support, please contact manager Natalie Chapman or social, emotional and wellbeing co-ordinator Shelley Truscott on
07 4999 0000.