Saying sorry in the 21st century : public apologies in a digital world

Hancox, Donna M. & Klaebe, Helen G. (2011) Saying sorry in the 21st century : public apologies in a digital world. In Anderson, Sue (Ed.) 17th National Biennial Conference of the Oral History Association of Australia 2011: Communities of Memory, 7-9 October 2011, Melbourne, VIC. (Unpublished)

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The public apology to the Forgotten Australians in late 2009 was, for many, the culmination of a long campaign for recognition and justice. The groundswell for this apology was built through a series of submissions which documented the systemic institutionalised abuse and neglect experienced by the Forgotten Australians that has resulted, for some, in life-long disadvantage and marginalisation.

Interestingly it seems that rather than the official documents being the catalyst for change and prompting this public apology, it was more often the personal stories of the Forgotten Australians that resonated and over time drew out quite a torrent of support from the public leading up to, during and after the public apology, just as had been the case with the ‘Stolen Generation.’

Research suggests (cite) that the ethics of such national apologies only make sense if their personal stories are seen as a collective responsibility of society, and only carry weight if we understand and seek to Nationally address the trauma experienced by such victims.

In the case of the Forgotten Australians, the National Library of Australia’s Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants Oral History Project and the National Museum’s Inside project demonstrate commitment to the digitisation of the Forgotten Australians’ stories in order to promote a better public understanding of their experiences, and institutionally (and therefore formally) value them with renewed social importance.

Our project builds on this work not by making or collecting more stories, but by examining the role of the internet and digital technologies used in the production and dissemination of individuals’ stories that have already been created during the period of time between the tabling of the senate inquiry, Children in Institutional Care (1999 or 2003?) and a formal National apology being delivered in Federal Parliament by PM Kevin Rudd (9 Nov, 2009?). This timeframe also represents the emergent first decade of Internet use by Australians, including the rapid easily accessible digital technologies and social media tools that were at our disposal, along with the promises the technology claimed to offer — that is that more people would benefit from the social connections these technologies allegedly were giving us.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 50616
Item Type: Conference Paper
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Deposited On: 28 Oct 2014 02:53
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2017 14:55

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