Perth’s annual Sorry Day event was held at Wellington Square, East Perth, on Thursday 26 May, with over 2 000 school students plus a further 1 000 community members attending.
Six Uniting Church schools participated in the event, which aims to tell the stories of the Stolen Generations. The Uniting Church WA, through the work of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) WA and the Justice and Mission Unit, has supported the organisation of Sorry Day events for a number or years, through its involvement in the Bringing Them Home Committee WA. UnitingCare West was also a key sponsor of the event and ran a popular activity whereby young people could paint their stories onto message stones.
Rev Sealin Garlett, UAICC WA minister, provided a moving welcome to country, which was followed by a smoking ceremony from Prof Len Collard.
A stunning sand mural was laid out on the grass for people to admire, and later in the day dancers took to the mural with traditional dance, performing on the sand.
Jim Morrison, co-convener of the Bringing Them Home Committee WA said that Sorry Day is a chance to engage with the community about the history of the Stolen Generations and to highlight the recommendation of the Bringing Them Home Report. The report was released in 1997 and detailed the effects of Australian policies which removed Indigenous children from their families from 1905–1969. It made 54 recommendations, most of which have been ignored.
“Our Committee ran the largest Sorry Day event in Australia last Thursday, 26 May, on the nineteenth anniversary of the tabling of the Bringing Them Home Report in the Federal Parliament. Sadly, the 2 000 schoolchildren and 1 000 community members who attended the event also confirmed our worst fears in that most told us that they knew little or nothing about the Stolen Generations,” Jim said.
“It is long overdue for the recommendations of the Bringing Them Home Report, which focus on the three key areas of truth, justice and healing to be implemented so that we can hopefully avoid such ill-informed comments in the future.”