NACCHO #HealthElection16 : Lets talk #SorryDay and #healing today 26 May

REC_Lets_Talk_Sorry_Day_V1_155659On our pathway towards reconciliation, Sorry Day on 26 May is an important moment to remember the past policies of forced child removal. In the lead up to Sorry Day and the 16th anniversary of the Corroboree 2000 Bridge Walk in Sydney on 28 May, we are reflecting on the sad and painful history of the Stolen Generations and recognising moments of resilience, healing and the power of saying Sorry.

Did you know?

  • The first Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998—exactly one year after the Bringing Them Home Report was presented to the Parliament.
  • The Bringing Them Home Report resulted from an inquiry into the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, and recommends both an apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and reparations.
  • The term “Stolen Generations” refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who were forcibly removed, as children, from their families by government, welfare or church authorities and placed into institutional care or with non-Indigenous foster families.
  • The forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children began as early as the mid-1800s and continued until the 1970s.
  • Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia have implemented state-based Stolen Generations reparations schemes.

 

 

 

 

“We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians…For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.”
Prime Minister Keven Rudd, 13 February 2013
1909: The Aborigines Protection Act gave the Aborigines Protection Board legal sanction to take Aboriginal children from their families in New South Wales.

1937: All Australian States adopt policies to ‘assimilate’ Aboriginal children of mixed descent.

1950s: During the 1950s and 1960s, great numbers of Aboriginal children were removed from their families in the name of assimilation. They became known as the Stolen Generation.

1970s: Aboriginal children continue to be removed from their families into the 1970s. Aboriginal groups begin to receive funding to challenge these very high rates of removal.

26 May 1997: The Bringing Them Home Report is tabled in Federal Parliament. This report talked about the painful history of the Stolen Generations, and made 54 recommendations for moving forward including holding a national Sorry Day every year.

26 May 1998: The first official Sorry Day is held to acknowledge the impact of forcible removal policies on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

28 May 2000: The Corroboree 2000 Bridge Walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge shut down traffic and made national headlines as hundreds of thousands of people walked in support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

13 February 2008: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologises to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, for the policies which ‘inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these, our fellow Australians’. This is why, on 13 February every year, we now celebrate the anniversary of the Apology.

 

Some statistics…

  • The Corroboree 2000 Bridge Walk saw over 250,000 people walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of reconciliation and saying sorry to the Stolen Generations.
  • 24,763 personal apologies were made to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the first Sorry Day in 1998.
  • The Bringing Them Home Report found that between one in three and one in ten Aboriginal children were removed from their families as a result of government policy.
  • The Inquiry which culminated in the Bringing Them Home Report received over 777 submissions, including 535 from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and organisations.

The Healing Foundation

“It never goes away. Just ‘cause we’re not walking around on crutches or with bandages or plasters on our arms and legs, doesn’t mean we’re not hurting. Just ‘cause you can’t see it … I’ll carry these sorts of wounds ‘till the day I die.”
Confidential Evidence 580, Queensland. Bringing Them Home Report

For many members of the Stolen Generations and the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, Sorry Day is official recognition of a dark history of forced removal that was, for a long time, denied. To assist with the healing process for the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected, the Healing Foundation was established one year after the Apology. For many members of the Stolen Generations, as well as their children and families, healing is a complex process. The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation with a focus on building culturally strong, community led healing solutions.

We encourage everyone to listen to the story of the Healing Foundation, and learn more about the organisation. We hope that by helping to recognise the wrongs of the past, we are moving forward towards a reconciled, just and equitable Australia.

Read more about the Healing Foundation.

Take action…

“In true reconciliation, through the remembering, the grieving and the healing we can come to terms with our conscience and become as one in the dreaming of this land.”
Evelyn Scott, Chairperson, Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, 27 May 2000.

Reconciliation Australia would like to thank the Healing Foundation for their help in the production of this factsheet.

Photo credits:

Banner photo: MAY 28, 2000 : Word Sorry appears in sky over Opera House as over 150,000 take part in walking across closed Sydney Harbour Bridge for Walk for Reconciliation, 28/05/00. NSW. OldPixRef: 06445586 OldPixCat: News (Photo by News Ltd / Newspix

Take action photo: The Apology to the Stolen Generations, Indigenous

 

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