Today is National Sorry Day, a day when we pause to remember the Stolen Generations of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In many ways it is a difficult day for Australia, as we reflect upon the violence and injustice of our history and consider what it means for the present. Yet it is an important day, especially for us as Christians, allowing space for both repentance and hope.
We have put together a brief FAQ below, along with some links, to equip our Common Grace community, as we speak, pray and hope for a more beautiful, generous and just Australia. We hope you find them helpful.
Today, let's commit to learn more of the stories of our collective history. Let's reflect upon the Stolen Generations and their families. Let's speak about National Sorry Day, and pray for God's kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.
What is National Sorry Day?
Every year, on National Sorry Day, we remember the Stolen Generations, the survivors of past government policies that allowed for the forcible removal of Indigenous children from their families.
This day was established in response to the 1997 Bringing them Home report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, which recommended that a National Sorry Day be held each year on the 26th of May “to commemorate the history of forcible removals and its effects.”
What was the National Apology?
On the 13th of February 2008, thousands of Australians shared in the experience of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations and Indigenous Australia delivered by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd together with the Australian Parliament.
Where are survivors of the Stolen Generations today?
The majority of Stolen Generations survivors are now over the age of 45. Despite the National Apology and an annual National Sorry Day, many survivors are still waiting for justice – and in particular for the comprehensive implementation of the recommendations of the 1997 Bringing them Home report.
Reunited members from Kinchela Boys Home who were forcibly removed from their families. Image by Sarah Barker.
Have we stopped the injustice experienced by the Stolen Generation?
Sadly, there remain many reasons current reasons for continuing to say sorry to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Among them, is the fact that there are still high numbers of children being removed from their families and homes today, with our current systems producing a similar outcome for children now as they did for those children who became the Stolen Generation. As a nation, we need to address the brokenness in our systems that are leading to these outcomes and commit to finding new solutions.
Sorry Day Prayer written by the Aboriginal and Islander Commission National Council of Churches in Australia 2002.
Almighty and loving God, you who created ALL people in your image,
Lead us to seek your compassion as we listen to the stories of our past. You gave your only Son, Jesus, who died and rose again so that sins will be forgiven.
We place before you the pain and anguish of dispossession of land, language, lore, culture and family kinship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced. We live in faith that all people will rise from the depths of despair and hopelessness. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have endured the pain and loss of loved ones, through the separation of children from their families.
We are sorry and ask God’s forgiveness.
Touch the hearts of the broken, homeless and inflicted and heal their spirits. In your mercy and compassion walk with us as we continue our journey of healing to create a future that is just and equitable.
Lord, you are our hope. Amen.
Grandmothers against Removals Rallies today – Sydney, Brisbane, Ballina
A Timeline of Stolen Generations History
A fact sheet on National Sorry Day by Reconciliation Australia
Resources for kids on National Sorry Day