The City of Whittlesea observed National Sorry Day on 26 May with a heart-felt ceremony to honour the Stolen Generations.
National Sorry Day has been held each year since 1998 to commemorate the tabling of the historic Bringing Them Home report in Federal Parliament in 1997.
It is a day to reflect on the tragic consequences of past laws, practices and policies that separated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and acknowledge the strength of Stolen Generations Survivors and reflect on how we can all play a part in the healing process for our people and nation.
The service, held at the Civic Centre in South Morang, began with a smoking ceremony led by Thane Garvey before attendees observed a minute’s silence and Welcome to Country.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker was Commissioner Maggie Walter of the Yoorrook Justice Commission.
Commissioner Walter is a proud Palawa woman, Distinguished Professor and prominent advocate for Indigenous rights who has authored more than 100 journal articles and research chapters in the fields of Indigenous sociology and Indigenous Data Sovereignty.
Attendees also took part in the Whittlesea Reconciliation Group’s annual Sorry Walk, which presents people with an opportunity to acknowledge the wrongs of the past and say sorry.
The ceremony concluded with the lowering of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to half-mast to honour the members of the Stolen Generations who did not come home.
City of Whittlesea Chair Administrator Lydia Wilson said National Sorry Day was a day of great significance to the local community.
“National Sorry Day is a day on which we say sorry to the Stolen Generations for the profound suffering, grief and loss they have experienced as a result,” Ms Wilson said.
“We acknowledge that the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is a cause of intergenerational pain still acutely felt by many in our community.”
National Sorry Day falls on the eve of National Reconciliation Week, which runs from 27 May to 3 June.
The theme of this year’s National Reconciliation Week is “Be a Voice for Generations”.