I was inspired to paint this canvas as a way of commemorating Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s saying “sorry” to the stolen generation of Aboriginal people on 13 February 2008. I wanted to present this painting as a gift to the Federal Parliament to say “thank you” on behalf of the Australian people, indigenous and non-indigenous. It is my hope that it be hung in Parliament House as a reminder of what happened.
My grandfather, Thomas Miller, was taken from his mother in Nyleta, North Queensland in 1905 when he was 5 years old, never to see his mother or sister again. In the centre of this painting is a yellow circle, representing the Aboriginal flag and the sun. Within it, can be seen Parliament House flying a flag saying “sorry” and the date – 13 February 2008. Typical of Aboriginal art are the dots and the hands on the painting. These are the hands of Thomas’ three great great grandchildren.
The striking background of colourful stripes represents the many indigenous and non-indigenous people who stood together that day on the lawns of Parliament House and around the nation to be part of this historic moment and hear the word they had long waited for – sorry. With tears and smiles, they could now start their journey of healing. The colour of the throng of people became like a coat of many colours, a parade of colour, with 120 different colours being used. A painful chapter in the history of our nation was now turned around, becoming an opportunity for reconciliation and a fresh start. A wave of healing moved across the nation.