National Sorry Day

Today is National Sorry Day. If you have not heard about this day and how it came about, then I feel that this email that was sent around in my workplace aptly captures the history of the struggle for the utterance of one word. 

With the deepest respect for the Aboriginal people, their Elders both past and present, I pause to reflect on this day. Sorry does not remove the hurt and devastation, but it does allow space to pause, heal and move forward.

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As you may or may not be aware, today is National Sorry Day.

The National Sorry Day commemorations remind and raise awareness among politicians, policy makers, and the wider public about the significance of the forcible removal policies and their impact on the Indigenous children that were taken, and also on their families and communities. Sorry Day is an annual event, with marches, speeches and presentations being held throughout the country.

The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998 – one year after the tabling of the report Bringing them Home, May 1997. The report was the result of an inquiry by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission into the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.

The public and political debate about the removal of children was marked by intense political activity since the mid-to-late 1980s. In 1992 Prime Minister Keating acknowledged that ‘we took the children from their mothers’ at a speech in Redfern. In 1994 legal action was commenced in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. These children who were removed came to be known as the Stolen Generations.

On the 13th of February 2008, more than ten years after the BringingThem Home Report was tabled, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, tabled a motion in parliament apologising to Australia’s Indigenous peoples, particularly the Stolen Generations and their families and communities, for laws and policies which had ‘inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians’.

Almost every Aboriginal family (and some Torres Strait Islander families) today can identify the loss of family members due to the forcible removal policies. The children that were removed and separated from their families grew up without an understanding of traditional knowledge, culture and without a sense of connection to the land and country where they were born. This disconnection from their families, ancestors, communities and culture has had a lasting and negative effect on the wellbeing and identity of Stolen Generations members, and has had an intergenerational impact on their children and families. It is likely that these effects will continue into the future.

So as you can imagine, today is of great significance to the children and families of the Stolen Generations. I hope that sometime today, everyone has an opportunity to acknowledge and reflect on the pain and suffering of our fellow Australians.

More information

Visit the National Sorry Day Committee website:http://www.nsdc.org.au/events-info/history-of-national-sorry-day.

Watch a Short video about National Sorry Day:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IGfvg0u7XY&list=UU05nOchoVi_8ChTLul5V9NA&index=6&feature=plcp

Watch the apology: http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/our-country/our-people/apology-to-australias-indigenous-peoples.

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