Kevin Rudd grew up on a farm in Queensland, Australia. His father died when he was eleven, leading to an experience of homelessness which he sees as a critical factor in his commitment to social justice and human rights. After studying Asian Studies at University, and learning Mandarin, he worked as a diplomat in Stockholm and Beijing.
He returned to Australia and worked on the successful 1989 Labor election campaign and became Director-General of the Cabinet under Prime Minister Wayne Goss. He entered Parliament in 1998 and nine years later successfully led his Party to victory and became Australia’s 26th Prime Minister.
Kevin’s government set into motion major reforms in domestic policy areas such as health, education, industrial relations, social security and infrastructure. Internationally, he made advances on climate change action, helped to establish the G20 and diplomacy and strengthened relationships within the Asia-Pacific community.
Since leaving politics in 2013, he has fought for action on climate change, social justice and international cooperation across the world.
ACTING TO MAKE HUMAN RIGHTS
On 13 February 2008, Kevin Rudd delivered the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in Australia. This recognised the injustice and discrimination that previous governments had enacted upon the Aboriginal Australians ‘the oldest continuing cultures in human history’ and committed to ‘closing the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The ‘Stolen Generations’ refers to the babies and children - especially those with mixed Australian Aboriginal/European Australian heritage - who were removed, sometimes forcibly, from their real families. This was legally undertaken by the state and federal governments, as well as by church organisations, between 1905 until the 1970s.
Read this poem written by a girl who was one of the Stolen Generation. What does it tell you about her terrible story? How does the poem make you feel? If you had been taken away from your family when you were five years old, forced to live in an institution and then adopted by a family with a different culture, what do you think you would want to do when you grew up?
This treatment of children was legal at the time under Australian law. Does the fact that it was legal mean that her Human Rights were not violated? Why do you think the apology was needed? The statement did not commit to financial compensation for the wrongs that had been committed. Do you think it should, or should not have done this?
Can you think of any examples where laws in the UK might come into conflict with your human rights? Imagine that you were a politician in Westminster – can you write a speech, that apologises for something that you think the country has done which has violated the human rights of an individual or group of people?
Creative Spirits – A website with stories and activities about the stolen generations
Australians Together – Teaching resources for stolen generations
@MrKRudd on Twitter
Is there a moment that inspired you to take action?
Who inspired you and why?
How do you make human rights a reality?
What in your human rights life makes you proud?
How do you deal with failure?
What do human rights mean to you?
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
What does it mean to lead?
Why is politics important?
How can you most powerfully engage politicians and the government?
What does hope mean to you?
How has someone else given you hope?
What piece of advice would you give?