The 26th May is National Day of Healing / National Sorry Day.
National Day of Healing (National Sorry Day) on May 26 is held each year on the day before Reconciliation Week begins.
On this day in 1997 the “Bringing Them Home” Report was tabled in Parliament. One of the many recommendations of this report was that the Prime Minister apologise to the Stolen Generations. Then Prime Minister John Howard refused to do so.
A year after the ‘Bringing Them Home’ report, the first National Sorry Day was observed and was held as a day for reflection, mourning, and healing.
In 2005, the National Sorry Day Committee renamed the day as the National Day of Healing and called on Australians to reflect upon the mistakes of the past, learn more about current issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and show a commitment towards reconciliation.
On 13 February 2008 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a formal apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly to the Stolen Generations whose lives had been blighted by past government policies of forced child removal and assimilation.
“… today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
We reflect on their past mistreatment.
We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our national history.
The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.
For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry….”
Each year, commemorations are held to remember and acknowledge the mistreatment of Australia’s First Nations peoples, particularly the Stolen Generations.
It is a day of observance, before moving into a week of reconciliation and finding a better way forward.
This day serves as a reminder of the ongoing work that needs to be done to address the lasting impacts of these past injustices and to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
It is a day when Australians have the opportunity to work together for healing and reconciliation.
We extend our respect to the Stolen Generations and acknowledge the strength and resilience of all survivors, their families and their communities.