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National Sorry Day in Brisbane

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by Shirley Peppler (subscribe)
I enjoy writing to give other people pleasure. I love traveling, eating out, finding fabulous cultural events at home and afar. I hope you'll like and try some of my discoveries, and favourite places and experiences.
Published April 16th 2018
This article may upset you, particularly if you're a parent. I apologise, but I believe it is as important a part of Australia's history as the commemoration of those lost in the wars our country fought, so I invite you to read on and form your own opinion.

26th May, event, National Sorry Day, culture

National Sorry Day is an Australia-wide observance held on May 26 each year. This day gives people the chance to come together and share the steps towards healing for the Stolen Generations, their families and communities.

Here is a brief explanation of how National Sorry Day came about. On 26 May 1997, the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament. The first National Sorry Day was held on May 26, 1998, which was one year after the tabling of this report about the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. The report acknowledged that Indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families and communities since the early days of European occupation in Australia by governments and missionaries. The Indigenous children taken from their families in the name of assimilation during the 1950s and 1960s are known as the "Stolen Generations". They were brought up in institutions or fostered to non-Indigenous families. By the 1980s, by welfare and community groups spoke out that governments' social welfare practices were discriminatory against Indigenous people and the practice of removal was reconsidered. In 1980, the family tracing and reunion agency Link-Up (NSW) Aboriginal Corporation was established. Similar services now exist throughout Australia to assist Stolen Generation people to find their birth families. Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd 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. This event is seen by many as a step forward in reconciliation.

You can learn more about this aspect of Australia's history by watching films such as Rabbit Proof Fence, listening to music such as 'Brown Skin Baby' by Bob Randall or 'Took the Children Away' by Archie Roach, reading one of the growing number of personal stories such as Talking To My Country by Stan Grant or Alice's Daughter: Lost Mission Child by Aunty Rhonda Collard or attending National Sorry Day events in your community.

A variety of National Sorry Day activities and events take place throughout Australia on 26th May, National Sorry Day. In Brisbane public ceremonies take place at various sites. This information is on the Brisbane City Council website about the process that led to these plaque sites being installed in public parks across Brisbane:

Orleigh Park, West End
Pandanus Point, Wynnum Foreshore (Breakwater Park)
Teralba Park, Everton Park
Kalinga Park, Nundah
Sherwood Arboretum, Sherwood
King George Square, Brisbane CBD. Brisbane City Council

26th May, event, National Sorry Day, culture
Sherwood Arboretum Commemorative Plaque

The Brisbane City Council website also provides more information including why these sites were chosen. Most sites will have a ceremony to commemorate National Sorry Day. Usually, these events involve a ceremony where stories are shared, flowers are laid and there may also be singing, poetry etc. A shared meal generally follows with the opportunity community members to meet and get to know each other better.

I have chosen 4 events that have significance for me:

Sat 26 May 2018, 7-10am, Teralba Park on Pullen Road, Everton Park. The National Sorry Day Commemoration Event will be held at the plaque site, near the children's playground in Teralba Park. 2018 is the 20th Anniversary of the Brisbane City Council funded, Stolen Generations Commemorative plaque being placed on site. On this day, we come together to remember Australia's Stolen Generations, hear from those directly affected, hear from guest speakers, experience Indigenous Culture and support those still healing. The morning includes singing. You may like to bring some flowers to lay on the plaque. Please bring your own chair. A free breakfast will be provided after the event! This free event is organized by the Teralba Park Stolen Generations Support Group Inc. This event is of significance to me as it is located in the region where I worked for many years.

26th May, event, National Sorry Day, culture
Teralba Park Stolen Generations Support group Sorry Day event

Fri, 25th May 2018 from 10:00am at Kalinga Park, Wooloowin. Each year, Noonga Reconciliation Group commemorates National Sorry Day with a ceremony. Local schools & community members are involved in the event through performances of dance, song and personal tributes. This year will involve reflections on children being removed in the past and currently from Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. Speakers will share their knowledge and show how colonisation has disadvantaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities today. All are welcome to attend. Again, this site is located in the region where I worked. NOTE: This event is on Friday, not Saturday.

Sat 26 May 2018, ceremony at 7am followed by shared breakfast, Sherwood Arboretum plague site, Joseph's St entrance. This year's ceremony will be particularly significant as it marks 20 years that folks have been gathering at the Sherwood Arboretum plaque site. Old timers and newcomers are equally welcome. Bring along some native flowers to place on the plaque and a plate of simple food to share at breakfast after the ceremony, a thermos of hot water for tea/coffee and camping chairs for Elders. Free event. This is my local site and a community centre which does some fabulous work toward reconciliation in its Aboriginal and Torres St Islander Solidarity group.

Sat 26 May 2018, 2-4pm National Sorry Day Author Event, Avid Reader Bookshop, West End. My dear friend, Aunty Rhonda Collard will speak about her life as a lost mission child. She recently completed her book, Alice's Daughter: Lost Mission Child. Rhonda was taken from her Aboriginal family in 1954, aged three and was placed on Carnarvon Native Mission. She drew strength and healing from art, music and poetry and her strong bond with the Dreaming. This will be an afternoon of remembrance and will feature plenty of yarning, poetry and song. Cost is $7.50. Tickets available at Avid Reader.

26th May, event, National Sorry Day, culture
Alice's daughter

You can contact your local community centre or Brisbane City Council to find out what is happening in your area and for more information about National Sorry Day. I hope to see you there.
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Why? Join in the spirit of reconciliation with me and many others
When: 25-26 May 2018
Phone: various
Where: Various
Cost: Mostly free, Avid Reader event $7.50
Your Comment
Thanks for writing about this important day Shirley.
by May Cross (score: 3|7810) 1049 days ago
No disrespect, but other than the fact that the Aboriginal & Torres Straight Islander children weren’t fostered into families of their same culture & instead forced into care that would have been overwhelmingly different than what should have been if the children had been left in the perfect care of their own parents. I find it very frustrating that the focus is so spotlighted seemly solely on these communities.

I lost a brother to this disgusting & misguided taking of children from loving & able families. The only difference for me & my family is that we are neither Aboriginal nor Torres Straight Islander, we are descendants of the European ‘invaiders’!

Why is it not widely publicised that this horrific ‘event’ took place in families of every stripe? Why was there only one public apology from government officials to the rest of the families affected by this horrible act?

I’m not saying in the least that the Aboriginal & Torres Straight Islanders don’t deserve an apology. I feel they deserve it more so than the European descendants for the reason I mentioned above & for probably more reasons I am fully ignorant to.

My question is genuine though, why is an apology not offered to the other families from Australia & New Zealand who also had their children forcefully taken, sometimes stolen while they were drugged or lied to that their baby had died shortly after birth. What happened was not directed at one or two communities but all citizens of Australia & New Zealand who were for what ever excuse deemed unsuitable parents.

I struggle to see the difference & truly want to know more about this. Please forgive my ignorance & any offence I may have caused, I just want to understand.

by prodi (score: 0|3) 1012 days ago
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