Sorry Day Remembers the Injustices Suffered by the Stolen Generations

 

Today is National Sorry Day, which is held on the 26th of May every year to remember the grief, suffering and injustice experienced by the Stolen Generations.

The date marks the anniversary of the presentation of the Bringing Them Home report to the Parliament of Australia.

The report was the culmination of the findings of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families which was conducted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

The release of the Bringing Them Home report raised awareness amongst the Australian public of the historical policies of forced removal of Indigenous people from their families as children, as well as the ongoing impacts. The response of many Australians was shock and horror.

This marked a pivotal moment in the healing journey of many Stolen Generations members.

It was the first time their stories—stories of being taken from their families—were acknowledged in such a way.

It is estimated that between 1 in 10, possibly as many as 1 in 3, Indigenous children were removed from their families and communities between 1910 and the 1970s.

These children were taken by the police; from their homes or on their way to school and put in to institutions, fostered or adopted out to non-Indigenous families.

Many children suffered harsh, degrading treatment, including sexual abuse, and were frequently indoctrinated to believe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were inferior.

The forcible removal of Indigenous children was a part of assimilation policies adopted by all Australian governments throughout the twentieth century. Despite the widespread nature of the practice, mainstream recognition of the experience has only been relatively recent.

On National Sorry Day, we reflect on the sad and painful history of the Stolen Generations and recognise moments of resilience, healing and the power of saying sorry.

BRHS Staff are encouraged to drop into the Aboriginal Health Unit today or tomorrow and ask for a Sorry Day flower badge to mark the day.

National Sorry Day today will be followed by National Reconciliation Week, 27 May to 3 June.