Pilger — who has made documentaries campaigning against the unfair treatment of indigenous Australians — told ninemsn Australians should boycott Sorry Day if they were serious about improving conditions for indigenous people.
"The 'sorry' is without much substance unless it is backed by an honest and massive rehabilitation campaign of all resources available to Aboriginal people," he said.
"Tears will be shed and there will be much emotion, but it will be over by next week."
He said Australia needed to sign a treaty, overhaul land rights, improve health benefits and implement comprehensive anti-poverty programs.
Pilger also criticised the government for not apologising at least a generation ago.
"Australia has treated its indigenous people worse than any other developed country," he said.
"Aboriginal people have been betrayed by every government since the Whitlam government."
He called on ordinary Australians not to celebrate Sorry Day unless they were going to take action on indigenous issues.
"To understand it they need to look at themselves and realise it's down to them to pressure their government to end the disgrace," he said.
"The whole 'sorry' thing is really to satisfy the white population, not the black population."
Pilger will unveil the world's largest poem in Sydney today to launch The Night Words Festival — a three-day celebration of rhythm and verse at the Sydney Opera House described as a "cosmopolitan corroborree".
The Public's Poem, displayed on a huge notebook almost five metres high, is a collection of one-line contributions from 400 young, old, native and new Australians compiled on Australia Day.
Pilger contributed this line: "Until whites give back to black their nationhood, they can never claim their own, no matter how many flags they fly."