(Not) saying sorry: Australian responses to the Howard Government's refusal to apologize to the stolen generations

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


This volume pays tribute to the formidable legacy of Hema Maes-Jelinek (1929-2008), a pioneering post-colonial scholar who was at Professor at the University of Liège, Belgium. The Howard Government’s refusal to apologise for past injustices to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, after the publication of the Bringing Them Home Report (1997), inflamed protest among many Australians. In the eight years before Prime Minster Kevin Rudd delivered a formal apology in the 2008, the Sorry Movement kept the issue alive in the public domain. This article compares two fictional responses from this era, Ray Lawrence’s feature film Jindabyne (2006), and Gail Jones’s novel Sorry (2007), focusing on the performativity with which the act of apology is uttered. It reads these trauma narratives as political allegories which challenge the official narrative of Reconciliation by representing white settler responses to abusive acts committed against indigenous people, ranging from denial to guilt and remorse.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cross-Cultural Legacy: Critical and Creative Writings in Memory of Hena Maes-Jelinek
EditorsGordon Collier, Geoffrey V Davis, Marc Delrez, Benedicte Ledent
Place of PublicationLeiden
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9789004338081
ISBN (Print)9789004336421
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2016

Publication series



  • Stolen generations
  • Australia
  • tribute
  • Hena Maes Jelinek
  • Saying Sorry
  • John Howard
  • Kevin Rudd
  • Bringing Them Home
  • Jindabyne
  • Ray Lawrence
  • Gail Jones
  • apology
  • The Sorry Movement
  • trauma
  • reconciliation


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