What is it?
National Sorry Day is held on May 26 each year to acknowledge and recognise members of the Stolen Generations. This day gives people the chance to come together and share the steps towards healing for the Stolen Generations, their families and communities. Stolen generations refer to Indigenous Australians who were forcibly removed from their families and communities.
The first Sorry Day was held on May 26, 1998, which was one year after the tabling of a report, known as “Bringing Them Home”, acknowledged that indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families and communities since the early days of European occupation in Australia. Governments and missionaries were responsible for their forced separation.
Systematic removal practices were implemented through various assimilation and ‘protection’ policies by the late 19th century. The children taken were known as the “Stolen Generation” They were bought up in institutions or fostered to non-indigenous families. This removal was official government policy in Australia until 1969.
Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (at that time) tabled a motion in parliament on February 13, 2008, apologising to Australia’s Indigenous people, particularly the Stolen Generations and their families and communities, for the laws and policies that inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss. The apology included a proposal for a policy commission to close the gap between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in matters such as life expectancy, education achievement, and economic opportunity. This event is seen as by many as a step forward in reconciliation.