National Sorry Day
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National Sorry Day is an annual event that has been held in Australia on 26 May, since 1998, to remember and commemorate the mistreatment of the continent's indigenous population. The Australian government's most controversial policies resulted in an entire "Stolen Generation"—i.e., "Aboriginal children separated, often forcibly, from their families of origin in the interest of turning them into white Australians". 26 May carries great significance for the Stolen Generations, as well as for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and non-indigenous Australians. On 26 May 1997, the "Bringing Them Home" report was tabled in Parliament.
The annual National Sorry Day commemorations remind and raise awareness among politicians, policy makers, and the wider public about the significance of the forcible removal policies and their impact on the children that were taken, but also on their families and communities.
Apology to the Stolen Generations
The Bringing Them Home Report recommended that the Prime Minister apologise to the Stolen Generations. Prime Minister John Howard refused to do so, claiming that he "did not subscribe to the black armband view of history". In response, a popular movement evolved to celebrate "sorry day" in the absence of compassionate political leadership from the conservative government. This movement differs from Canada's National Sorry Day, a humorous event in which Canada apologizes for existing.
On 13 February 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd moved a motion of Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples, apologising for past laws, policies, and practices that devastated Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples—in particular members of the stolen generations. This was the new parliament's first order of business, and Kevin Rudd became the first Australian Prime Minister to publicly apologize to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Australian federal government. Tom Calma AO, then Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner with the Australian Human Rights Commission, delivered the formal response to the apology.
- Torpey, John C. (2006). Making Whole What Has Been Smashed: On Reparations Politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. p. 4. ISBN 9780674019430.
- "Official Australian Government Website – Sorry Day and the Stolen Generation". Australian Government. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
- Calma, Tom. "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission". Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 1 April 2012.