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about a million Australians have apologised to the nation's 300,000 aborigines over a policy which saw generations of children forcibly separated for their parents. Up to one million people are estimated to have signed the 'sorry books'. The Aboriginal flag flew from the National Parliament building in Canberra.
However, John Howard, the conservative prime minister has refused to make a formal apology on behalf of the Australian governments responsible for the hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal children torn from their families for a century up to the late 1960s. Many still bear the scars of the physical, sexual and psychological abuse which human rights commission report found they suffered in the white institutions and foster homes they were sent to.
Howard to the Parlia-ment: "Although in a personal sense many Australians will feel sorrow and regret in relation to past injustices suffered by sections of the Australians community, it is the view of my government that a formal national apology, of the type sought by others, is not appropriate".