WORK TO DO: Speaking in Gympie yesterday, Aunty Judi Wickes says the Stolen Generation conversation needs to move forward with education being the key.
WORK TO DO: Speaking in Gympie yesterday, Aunty Judi Wickes says the Stolen Generation conversation needs to move forward with education being the key. Tom Daunt

'Talk time is over, now we must step forward'

ABORIGINAL elder Aunty Judi Wickes remembers exactly where she was when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for the wrongs the country had dealt them.

She was at the University of the Sunshine Coast watching Mr Rudd's address with tears streaming down her face.

A decade later, February 13 still stirs not only Aunty Judi's emotions but those of all who heard Mr Rudd's speech that day.

He said, "The time has come for the nation to turn a new page. A page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.”

Aunty Judi heard the words, but she says that in 2018 the time for speaking is over.

"Maybe we don't need words.

"Maybe we need to remember our ancestors and the pain they went through and how that suffering has led us to where we are today,” Aunty Judi said while addressing the crowd who had gathered at Gympie Hospital yesterday.

They were there to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Mr Rudd's Apology to the Stolen Generation and their surviving families.

As a mentor, educator and counsellor to people of the Stolen Generation and their families, Aunty Judi has spent her life helping the community understand the intricacies of a policy that devastated her people.

She believes education is the key to moving the conversation surrounding the Stolen Generation forward.

"I believe we have had a lot of steps forward, but I think we have had even more steps backwards,” Aunty Judi said.

"Even though it is acknowledged in the wider Australian community, it is not taught in schools so the up and coming students are not learning about it.

"When students get to university and they are doing education and social work, they have never heard of it.

"I think a lot of people are asking for remuneration.

"But will that really be enough to take away the pain?” she asked.

"I don't think so.”