National Sorry Day, observed on May 26th each year, holds immense significance in Australia's journey towards reconciliation and healing.
Image: Three people sitting on the bed. An older woman, teenage girl and toddler.
National Sorry Day serves as a reminder of the profound injustices and intergenerational trauma endured by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, particularly the Stolen Generations.
National Sorry Day falls the day before National Reconciliation Week (NRW). NRW is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The dates for NRW are the same each year; 27 May to 3 June.
Origins of National Sorry Day
The origins of National Sorry Day can be traced back to the 1997 report titled "Bringing Them Home," which was commissioned to investigate the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.
The report shed light on the detrimental impacts of these policies, known as the Stolen Generations, and the need for acknowledgement, apology, and support for those affected.
On May 26, 1998, the first National Sorry Day was commemorated as a collective response to the "Bringing Them Home" report. The day aimed to raise awareness, express remorse, and demonstrate solidarity with the Stolen Generations and their families.
Significance of National Sorry Day
National Sorry Day is a time for reflection, empathy, and understanding. It provides an opportunity for us as individuals, communities, and institutions to acknowledge the historical wrongs committed against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples through forced removal policies.
This day allows us to recognise the intergenerational trauma experienced by the Stolen Generations and the ongoing impact it has had on their lives and communities. It serves as a call for healing, reconciliation, and a commitment to ensuring such injustices are not repeated.
Image: A large crowd outside at a protest. People are holding Aboriginal flags and BLM posters.
The Uluru Statement and its Connection to National Sorry Day
The Uluru Statement from the Heart, released in 2017, is a pivotal document in the quest for justice and reconciliation. The Uluru Statement emerged from a series of dialogues and consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia, culminating in a gathering of over 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders at Uluru.
The connection between National Sorry Day and the Uluru Statement is in their shared purpose of addressing historical injustices and fostering reconciliation. Both National Sorry Day and the Uluru Statement call for acknowledgement, respect, and a commitment to creating a more equitable society. They also share a date. May 26 is the Anniversary of the Uluru Statement, which was tabled in 2017.
The Uluru Statement emphasises the importance of genuine recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and the need for consultation through constitutional reform, by establishing a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution and the creation of a Makarrata Commission to oversee treaty negotiations and truth-telling. It provides a roadmap for meaningful change and a pathway towards healing the wounds of the past.
The statement calls for constitutional reforms, including the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution and a Makarrata Commission to oversee treaty negotiations and truth-telling. It represents the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples for self-determination, recognition, and a genuine partnership with the Australian government.
Life Without Barriers supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart in its entirety, and we support the establishment of a Voice to Parliament. Learn more about our efforts to make accessible information available to all Australians about the Voice and what it will mean for our country.
Image: The Uluru Statement from the Heart surrounded by signatures and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art work.
"What is the difference between National Apology Day and National Sorry Day?
National Sorry Day is observed on May 26th each year in Australia. It is a day of remembrance and reflection dedicated to acknowledging the historical mistreatment and injustices suffered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, particularly the Stolen Generations.
National Apology Day refers to February 13, 2008, when then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in the Australian Parliament. This significant event aimed to acknowledge the pain, suffering, and trauma endured by the Stolen Generations due to forced removal policies. The National Apology represented a momentous milestone in Australia's history, symbolising the government's formal apology for their actions and signalling a commitment to reconciliation and healing.
Image: An Aboriginal woman speaking at a meeting. She is inside and wearing a cheetah print top.
Continuing the journey
As we commemorate National Sorry Day, it is essential to reflect on the actions and attitudes that contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society. This day encourages us to engage in meaningful conversations, educate ourselves about the history and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and actively support efforts towards reconciliation.
We can all play a role in fostering positive change by listening to the voices and experiences of Indigenous communities, advocating for justice and equality, and honouring the principles of the Uluru Statement.
Through genuine partnership, respect, and understanding, we can collectively work towards healing the wounds of the past and building a brighter future for all Australians.
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