National Sorry Day, Shepparton, 2015

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. Stolen Generations refer to Aboriginal Australians who were forcibly removed from their families and communities. On 26 May 2015, a large crowd gathered at Monash Park, Shepparton, to commemorate Sorry Day.
 

On Tuesday 26 May, a large crowd assembled at Monash Park to celebrate the anniversary of Sorry Day. Staff and Students of Orrvale Primary School were present, along with Staff and Students from ASHE, the Aboriginal School of Health and Education.

Members of the Shepparton Interfaith Network were present, including the founder, Monsignor Peter Jeffrey. Imran Sayed, of the Sadaath Foundation was also in attendance. There were also members of the public, members of Shepparton Reconciliation Group along with many representatives from the local Indigenous Peoples, including those from Rumbalara. The Mayor, Cr Denis Patterson and four councillors from City of Greater Shepparton were among the dignitaries attending the Celebration.

The Sorry Day Ceremony was led by students from all Secondary Schools in and around Shepparton, and by students from the Primary Schools.

 
Sorry Day Banner, Shepparton

Bringing Them Home - the Stolen Generations

The first National Sorry Day was held on May 26, 1998, one year after the tabling of a report about the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. The report, known as Bringing Them Home, acknowledged that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were forcibly separated from their families and communities since the early days of European occupation in Australia. Governments and missionaries were responsible for this forced separation.

Fifteen years ago, 'SORRY' was written in the sky above 500,000 Australians walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sorry Day is now commemorated nationally with thousands of Australians from all walks of life participating in gatherings to commemorate and remember all those who have been impacted by the government policies of forcible removal. It was these policies that resulted in the Stolen Generations.

It is important that we remember there has been a long history of injustice for the Aboriginal peoples of this country commencing with years of invasion, genocide, massacres and dispossession.

This was followed by many generations of living under the different laws and policies that governed and kept people imprisoned on reserves and missions.

These laws and policies were imposed on the very general and most intimate parts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ lives. They applied not just to their living and working conditions, but everyday decisions about personal, social, emotional, religious and recreational aspects of their lives.

Sorry Day in Shepparton

 
Flags lowered before Sorry Day Commemoration

Uncle Bobby Nichols welcomed all present, and Eric Brown played the digeridoo. A Welcome to Country was then given by members of the Yorta Yorta Nation.

The Dhungala Dancers then performed several dances. The first dance was a Creation Story.

 
Creation Story by Dhungala Dancers, Shepparton  
 
Dhungala Dancers, Shepparton

Expression of Sorrow

All persons present were invited to join in the expression of sorrow. The public expression of sorrow was led by students from Wanganui Secondary College, Stuart Payne and Beth Organ:

We ask you all to respond with “We are sorry” to the following statements.
They took the children away from their mothers, their fathers and their families
All: We are sorry
They told the children their mothers did not love them
All: We are sorry
They wanted the children to lose their culture and spirituality
All: We are sorry
They wanted the children to lose their identity as Indigenous people
All: We are sorry
Many parents never saw their children again
All: We are sorry
Many of the survivors suffered great hardship and pain
All: We are sorry
Some of the survivors do not know how to love
All: We are sorry
A great wrong was done
All: We are sorry

Laying of Wreath

Chelsea Briggs-Baksh and Troy Scott from Shepparton High School then laid a wreath at the base of the flagpole as a mark of respect and to commemorate those members of the Stolen Generations past and present. We acknowledge their profound sense of loss, grief and suffering pain and suffering.

Flag Raising

Calvin Simpson, Al Kina Edwards and Jannali Fermor from ASHE - Aboriginal School of Health and Education - then went to the flagpoles to raise the three flags – the Aboriginal flag, the Torres Strait Islander flag and the Australian Flag.

 
Raising of Flags, Shepparton

Aunty Alice Solomon

Aunty Alice Solomon is a Yorta Yorta woman and respected Elder who lives on Taungurung land. Aunty Alice is strongly involved in the local community in Seymour including the Local Indigenous Network. She is also President of the “The Seymour We Want” group.

As a member of the Stolen Generations, Aunty Alice’s story has been told in the DVD “Fractured: Broken Lives, Reclaimed Ties”.

 
Aunty Alice Solomon at Sorry Day, Shepparton, 2015

Aunty Alice told the story of her childhood, and polio. Aunty Alice contracted polio the year the Salk vaccine was discovered, but it was too late: polio took control of her health in childhood. She was placed into foster care and experienced many years of separation from her family, including living with lies from those who provided care - lies about her family.

Aunty Alice spoke strongly, with much strength and love, evident in her posture, her voice, her message. She also spoke with love and gentleness, and at the end of her talk, finished with a quote from Aunty Joy Wandin-Murphy: May the peace of Biame - Bunjil - the Creator - be with you all and guide your lives.

 
Presentation of Flowers to Aunty Alice Solomon

An introduction to National Reconciliation Week was then given. National Reconciliation Week is celebrated across Australia each year between May 27 and June 3. The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey – the anniversary of the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision which recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had rights to the land – rights that existed before the British arrived and can still exist today.

 
Deidre Robertson brings Sorry Day to a close and invites participants to sign the Sorry Book
Deidre Robertson of Shepparton Reconciliation Group brings Sorry Day to a close
and invites participants to sign the Sorry Book


The week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort and work for healing in our land. The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2015 is “It’s time to change it up!

At the end of the Sorry Day ceremony, all present were then invited to sign the Sorry Day book and make a pledge to further Reconciliation and healing in our land. A Sorry Day walk was then conducted along Fryer Street to Latrobe University, where staff and students conducted a short ceremony. During this ceremony, a tree was planted to commemorate the passing of an indigenous student, Clive Hodgson.

 


Planting of tree at Latrobe University to commemorate passing of Clive Hodgon

Wednesday 27 May to Wednesday 3 June * National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week is celebrated across Australia each year between 27 May and 3 June. The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous Australians -the anniversaries of the successful 1967 referendum on 27 May to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census and the High Court Mabo decision on 3 June 1992 which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land that existed prior to colonisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights called Native Title. The week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort.

Visit the Reconciliation Australia website for more information on how to be involved. http://www.reconciliation.org.au/nrw/

 


Sorry Day at Latrobe University
   

1,622 total views, 1 views today

1621 Total Views 2 Views Today