On our pathway towards reconciliation, Sorry Day on 26 May is an important moment to remember the past policies of forced child removal. Here, we reflect on the sad and painful history of the Stolen Generations and recognise moments of resilience, healing and the power of saying Sorry.
The forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children began as early as the mid-1800s and continued until the 1970s.
Exactly one year after the Bringing Them Home Report was presented to the Parliament, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologised and held the first Sorry Day on 26th May 1998.
The Bringing Them Home Report was the result of an inquiry into the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, and recommends both an apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and reparations. The term “Stolen Generations” refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who were forcibly removed, as children, from their families by government, welfare or church authorities and placed into institutional care or with non-Indigenous foster families, which is still, and will forever be present in Aboriginal culture.
“We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians…For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, 13 February 2008