The 26th May each year, is a day to commemorate the forcible removals of Stolen Generations survivors.
Sorry Day, a significant day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, who were subjected to the assimilation policies of this country, stolen from their families and communities, by government, welfare or church authorities, resulting in a loss of culture, language and identity, with significant transgenerational effects impacting on their descendants still to this day.
On Sorry Day we acknowledge these effects.
The Bringing Them Home Report was tabled on the 26th May 1997, two years after the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their families. For many survivors this was the first opportunity to tell their stories and be heard, during hearings in each capital cities and regional centres. 535 Indigenous individual and group submissions were received.
A national ‘Sorry Day’ was one of the recommendations from the Bringing Then Home Report. “That the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, in consultation with the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, arrange for a national `Sorry Day' to be celebrated each year to commemorate the history of forcible removals and its effects.”
Today we say Sorry to the Children, Mothers, Fathers, siblings and communities.
Today we wear the Sorry Day Flower.
For the Mothers and Children of the Stolen Generations. The five-petal Native Hibiscus was chosen by Stolen Generations survivors of the Kimberley. It is emblematic of the scattering of the Stolen Generations. The flower symbolises the strength and resilience, of our people against the assimilation policies of Australia, and it’s colour represents spiritual healing and compassion.
For many, Sorry came too late. “Sorry came too late for my mother, Cathy. She is not here to participate in its observance. She passed away at just 60 Years of age. Her life had not been easy. She was a Stolen Generations child of just 12 when they stole her and her seven siblings.” Trish says. Trish is a Coota Girls descendant. “Sorry came too late for my mother and those who passed before its creation”
Jeremy Long is third generation Stolen Generations, a Coots Girls descendant also, and today he “stops to reflect on how poor government policies of the past have impacted on Indigenous families across Australia and my own family today.” He says “It’s recognising that the impacts have been detrimental to many families in terms of family connection, belonging place and culture.” Jeremy also sees today as a day “to look forwards to the future, not forgetting the past but not getting stuck in the past. It’s an opportunity to positively shape the next stories for the next generations, championing our families and our mobs.”
A beautiful quote from Evelyn Scott on the 27th May 2000, “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.