The sixth anniversary today of the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples is an opportunity for everyone to reflect on the continuing importance of respect and reconciliation, says Shadow Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Curtis Pitt.

“When Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered his profound and heartfelt apology to the Stolen Generations and their descendants on behalf of the nation, it was not the end of a process, but the start of one,” said Mr Pitt.

“We can all consider today as Queenslanders and Australians what contribution we have made to the healing process, and what we can do in the future as individuals to bring peoples together based on mutual respect.

“Yesterday the Prime Minister delivered this year’s Closing the gap report. The report covers areas such as life expectancy, education and unemployment and aims to breach the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2030

“Last night in the Parliament I spoke on the importance of vaccination for Indigenous children. The health gap that we must be committed to closing—includes higher rates of infant and child mortality for Indigenous children.

“A significant contribution to this lower health status is lower cover with vaccination programs to provide immunity to preventable diseases including diphtheria, haemophilus influenza type B, measles, meningococcal infection, mumps, whooping cough, rubella and tetanus.

“The Prime Minister stated that the targets to halve the gap in child mortality within a decade and to have 95 per cent of remote children enrolled in pre-school are on track.

“Much of the hard work to achieve those results has been done by the health sector run by and for indigenous communities themselves, and there is much that other healthcare services could learn from how these Indigenous managed health services meet local community needs.

“While governments and politicians have a vital role to play through initiatives such as Closing the Gap, we all have a personal responsibility to do what we can to make amends for the injustices and prejudice of the past.

“I hope all Queenslanders will pause for a moment today to ask themselves how they can make a positive contribution to this process through a spirit of friendship and nationhood.”