As my colleagues from all sides of the Chamber have mentioned, this is an important debate on an issue on which the New South Wales Parliament has a proud history of leading the nation. On 18 June 1997 former Labor Premier Bob Carr delivered the first apology in any Parliament in the country in response to the national inquiry into the Stolen Generation. The motion that Premier Carr was speaking to read:
That this House, on behalf of the people of New South Wales—
(1)apologises unreservedly to the Aboriginal people of Australia for the systematic separation of generations of Aboriginal children from their parents, families and communities;
(2)acknowledges and regrets Parliament's role in enacting laws and endorsing policies of successive governments whereby profound grief and loss have been inflicted upon Aboriginal Australians;
(3)calls upon all Australian governments to respond with compassion, understanding and justice to the report of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission entitledBringing them home; and
(4)reaffirms its commitment to the goals and processes of reconciliation in New South Wales and throughout Australia.
Twenty-five years later, we still have so far to go before we deliver on this promise of reconciliation. Former Premier Carr's apology on 18 June 1997 was an important step in formally acknowledging the role our Parliament played in a shameful period in our nation's history. While so much of our recent history is viewed through the prism of the Federal Government and Australia as a nation, it is important for us to recall and reflect on the fact that until Federation the injustices and persecution of Aboriginal Australians was done by and in the name of the States, including New South Wales. Laws enacted in this Parliament by governments formed in this Chamber often led to the dispossession, disenfranchisement and mistreatment of Aboriginal people throughout New South Wales. It cannot be forgotten that for almost 115 years the New South Wales Government, not the Australian Government, was primarily responsible for these injustices.
We still have a long way to go to deliver on the promise of reconciliation, but I am proud of the Carr legacy in beginning the process of healing in New South Wales. The apologies made by former Premier Carr and former Prime Minister Rudd were important historic moments that helped parliaments, governments and the nation as a whole reconsider the impact of colonisation and the truth of how this society came into being. While these grand gestures matter a great deal, we must remain vigilant and attentive to the real-world experience of Australia's First Nations people living with the laws and policies we enact in parliaments such as this one. Sorry means not doing it again. It is a common refrain and one that this Parliament must keep at the forefront of its thinking.
Twenty-two years ago, I marched across the Sydney Harbour Bridge with 250,000 others for reconciliation, but all these years later many of the statistical markers for health, education and incarceration reveal that Aboriginal people are not in a significantly better position now than they were a quarter of a century ago. One of the most important steps in our journey towards reconciliation now lies in front of us, with former member of this Parliament and now Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon. Linda Burney, tasked with implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full. I was filled with pride when Prime Minister Anthony Albanese began his speech on election night by reiterating his support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full and an Indigenous voice in that Parliament.
An Indigenous voice in Parliament is a vital mechanism for direct, grassroots engagement by First Nations people with the government of the day, speaking to parliamentarians about the impact of legislation on First Nations communities throughout Australia. This is crucially important in closing the gap, delivering justice and improving the lives of First Nations people. I look forward to this referendum and to fighting alongside each and every one of you to see an Indigenous voice to Parliament become a reality. As we heard from survivors of the Stolen Generations on this twenty-fifth anniversary, the pain and suffering of the impacts of the Stolen Generation is intergenerational and is still hurting First Nations people. We must address the gaps in life expectancy, health outcomes, education outcomes, employment outcomes, housing outcomes, incarceration and deaths in custody of our First Nations people. That is our obligation as parliamentarians.