The meaning of an apology

On Saturday I am going to be part of a panel discussion at the National Archives of Australia, in Canberra, about the meaning of an apology.

The forum will be chaired by Professor Nahum Mushin, who will lead former Senator Sue Boyce, Professor Mick Dodson, my Find & Connect colleague Dr Cate O’Neill, Dr Trevor Jordon and myself in a discussion about the notion of an apology, and how and why people respond in different ways. I’ll be talking about the Find & Connect web resource, about my PhD studies, which were conducted before the 2008 apology to the stolen generations or the 2009 apology to Forgotten Australians and former Child Migrants. I wrote about the 2009 apology, for New Matilda, long before I knew I would end up working as a state-based historian on the Find & Connect web resource, and long before the final part of the trilogy, Julia Gillard’s apology to those affected by Forced Adoptions. I’ll also have something to say about the responses of people, and those directly affected.

The event is associated with a new exhibition, Without Consent: Australia’s past adoption practices, which opens on Friday 20 March at the Archives. The event is at 2pm, but seems to be booked out. Apparently there’ll be podcasts of it on the website, which is somehow even more nerve-wracking. Still, I’m looking forward to it, and especially to catching up with my mate Cate. It’s like getting the band back together! Except we are digital history and data nerds, not musos …

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