NATIONAL SORRY DAY
Today marks 26 years since the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in our national parliament. The Bringing Them Home report finally told many individual histories that we as a community knew. Our children were taken away from their families and made to grow up away from their families that loved them, and their culture, with the sole purpose to eliminate us.
In 1991, Prime Minister Paul Keating acknowledged that our governments and people took our children from their mothers. In 1997 Premier Bob Carr said Sorry for the part successive NSW governments had in dispossessing our communities and taking our children away. However, it wasn’t until 2008 that an Australian Prime Minister actually said Sorry for the laws and actions of past governments.
Next week is National Reconciliation Week. This reflects significant legal changes that affect us. On 27 May 1967 the referendum was overwhelmingly accepted by the rest of the community that Aboriginal people should be counted within the community and include the ability to make laws about us. Previously we were not counted, were not considered citizens, and while laws could be made that impacted on us, they were considered “Special laws”. The second significant date was 2 June 1992 – the Mabo decision by the High Court that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have land rights.
This year’s theme for Reconciliation Week is “Be A Voice for Generations”.
So National Sorry Day reminds us that the laws made in this country and across the States have significantly impacted on us as a Community. The laws supported taking children away, the laws did not recognise us as citizens of our country and did not recognise our land rights across the nation.
For our families that were impacted directly by their children being taken, for the children raised away from family and kin, we need to acknowledge the sorrow for your loss. This extended beyond those taken and left deep marks that are still felt, it is not just in the past.
Reconciliation Week needs us to Be a Voice for Generations, both past and future.
Bringing them home documentary
Paul Keating – Redfern Speech
Bob Carr – NSW Apology
The 1967 Referendum