Posted May 2017
What is National Sorry Day?
National Sorry Day came from a key recommendation made by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.
On 26 May 1997, the Bringing Them Home Report was tabled in Federal Parliament, detailing information relating to children who were removed from their families by State and Territory Government policies from the 1800s to the 1970s. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the tabling of this report.
One year on from the tabling of the report, on the 26 May 1998, Australia observed National Sorry Day for the first time. The suffering and loss of generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was acknowledged and respected, as communities joined together in commemorative events around the country.
National Sorry Day is commemorated on 26 May each year and is separate to the National Apology to the Stolen Generations delivered to the country on 13 February 2008.
Ways in which we can commemorate National Sorry Day together:
- Attend a Sorry Day event in your area - find out what your local council or school are doing
- Wear purple - this is often the colour worn on this day
- Light a candle for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (Stolen Generations) who were removed from their families and communities
- Hold a minute silence at your workplace or at home
- Invite a local Elder to do a Welcome to Country and enjoy morning tea with the children, families and members of the community
- Talk to the children and document your discussions and experiences about the importance of families and the feelings we experience when we are separated from them, as well as how we feel when we are reunited
Ways in which adults can commemorate National Sorry Day (these activities are not suitable for children):
- Listen to the song ‘They Took the Children Away' by Archie Roach, or read it in book form
- Watch the 2016 SBS Documentary Servant or Slave that details the stories of women of the Stolen Generation working as Domestic Servants: http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/810629699644/servant-or-slave
- Watch a movie relating to the Stolen Generation, such as Rabbit Proof Fence (2002). View the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lbnk8wSVMaM
- Familiarise yourself with the Bringing Them Home Report: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/bringing-them-home-chapter-1
- Listen to or read the speech by Prime Minister Paul Keating at the launch of the International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples, 1993: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1S4F1euzTw
The commemorative Sorry Day Flower
- Purchase and wear the Sorry Day Commemorative Flower: http://www.kimberleystolengeneration.com.au/shop/sorry-day-flowers
- Plant a Native Hibiscus with the children. The Native Hibiscus is found widely across Australia and was chosen as a commemorative flower or plant, because it is known to survive in various conditions and elements and the colour denotes compassion and spiritual healing.