By Megan Palin
Hundreds of people gathered at the Bondi Pavilion to watch the 9am live telecast of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s historic ‘sorry’ speech to indigenous Australians on February 13.
Waverley Council hosted a community BBQ at the Pavilion during the telecast to show its support for the apology. Waverley deputy mayor Dominic Wy Kanak, also a member of the Aboriginal community, said he felt part of a nationally historic moment.
A huge round of applause followed the PM’s speech, while tears and an outpouring of emotion from onlookers were widespread. ‘Some people were crying, some people were clapping and cheering. But I think they were tears of joy and not sorrow,’ Councillor Wy Kanak said.
Some spectators showed support for the apology by proudly draping themselves with Aboriginal flags. Others let their clothes do the talking by wearing shirts with the word ‘sorry’ printed on them. Aboriginal flags were also placed along Oxford Street Mall, Bondi Junction by the council.
Cr Wy Kanak said the weather did not hinder the event at Bondi Pavilion. ‘Many people told me that the rainstorm felt like a symbolic cleansing and a spiritual prelude to the Prime Minister’s speech,’ he said.
The Aboriginal councillor said it was particularly good to have the event at a place like Bondi Pavilion because it was seen as the cultural centre of the Bondi community. ‘Having such an historic event happening live through telecast into Bondi Pavilion adds to the spirit of Bondi and adds to cultural memory,’ Cr Wy Kanak said.
On February 19 the council unanimously adopted the recommendations of a mayoral minute that the council: congratulate the PM on making a formal national apology to the Stolen Generation, receive an update on the ‘Sorry Wall’ to be located at Bondi Beach and request the Mayor Ingrid Strewe to write to the PM, Federal Opposition Leader and the Federal Member for Wentworth outlining its support for the bipartisan national apology.