National Sorry Day 2017

26 May 2017

 National Sorry Day 2017

 A day to remember 20th Anniversary of the Bringing Them Home Report  

“Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families April 1997

This report is a tribute to the strength and struggles of many thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by forcible removal. We acknowledge the hardships they endured and the sacrifices they made. We remember and lament all the children who will never come home.
 
We dedicate this report with thanks and admiration to those who found the strength to tell their stories to the Inquiry and to the generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people separated from their families and communities.”

 

 

Painting by Gundtjmara artist Jodie Cadd (Used with permission)

 

Take time to read the following quotes extracted from the report…
 
“Because [my mother] wasn't educated, the white people were allowed to come in and do whatever they wanted to do - all she did was sign papers. Quite possibly, she didn't even know what she signed ... The biggest hurt, I think, was having my mum chase the welfare car - I'll always remember it - we were looking out the window and mum was running behind us and singing out for us. They locked us in the police cell up here and mum was walking up and down outside the police station and crying and screaming out for us. There was 10 of us.”
 
Confidential evidence 689, New South Wales: woman removed in the 1960s and placed in Parramatta Girls' Home.

 

 

                                 

“Every morning our people would crush charcoal and mix that with animal fat and smother that all over us, so that when the police came they could only see black children in the distance. We were told always to be on the alert and, if white people came, to run into the bush or run and stand behind the trees as stiff as a poker, or else hide behind logs or run into culverts and hide. Often the white people - we didn't know who they were - would come into our camps. And if the Aboriginal group was taken unawares, they would stuff us into flour bags and pretend we weren't there. We were told not to sneeze. We knew if we sneezed and they knew that we were in there bundled up, we'd be taken off and away from the area.
 
There was a disruption of our cycle of life because we were continually scared to be ourselves. During the raids on the camps it was not unusual for people to be shot - shot in the arm or the leg. You can understand the terror that we lived in, the fright - not knowing when someone will come unawares and do whatever they were doing - either disrupting our family life, camp life, or shooting at us.”
 
Confidential evidence 681, Western Australia: woman ultimately surrendered at 5 years to Mt Margaret Mission for schooling in the 1930s.

 

Steps towards change...

A new report released this week by the Healing Foundation outlines four priorities to achieve long-term change. Bringing Them Home, 20 Years On, urges the Federal Government to:

• Conduct a comprehensive needs analysis to inform the delivery of more effective services for Stolen Generations members

• Establish a national scheme for reparations to ensure equal access to financial redress and culturally appropriate healing services,

• Co-ordinate compulsory training around Stolen Generations trauma so that the organisations working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are better equipped to provide effective and appropriate services.

• Initiate a comprehensive study of intergenerational trauma and how to tackle it.

Later this year, the Australian Human Rights Commission will launch an updated version of its Bringing Them Home schools resource, mapped to the Australian school curriculum.

 

Dear God,
 
We pray for another way of being: another way of knowing.
 
Across the difficult terrain of our existence we have attempted to build a highway and in doing so have lost our footpath.  
 
God lead us to your footpath:  Lead us there where in simplicity we may move at the speed of natural creatures and feel the earth’s love beneath our feet.  
 
Lead us there where step by step we may feel the movement of creation in our hearts.
 
Michael Leunig
 

Links:

·       Bringing them home: The 'Stolen Children' report (1997)

·       Bringing Them Home 20 years on: An action plan for healing

·       Who spoke out at the time?