A message to commemorate National Sorry Day 2020

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26 May 2020

To commemorate National Sorry Day and pay tribute to the Stolen Generations and their families, we would like to share this video message from our CEO, Prof Muriel Bamblett AO (Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung).

Please watch the video or read the abridged transcript below.

"I want to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners, all their Elders past and present, and our emerging Elders.

I also want to pay tribute today to the Stolen Generations, their families and their friends who come together today.

Today is National Sorry Day. It is a day that marks the special place of our Stolen Generations. It is our time to acknowledge those who were taken from their families, for we know better than anyone the impacts of removal on our people.

It is also a day for families whose children were taken. It’s a day for us to remember, to never forget what happened to our families, communities and cultures and how there was a great loss experienced by our people that we are still trying to come to terms with and we are still trying to address today.

We acknowledge particularly the deep sense of loss of culture. Aboriginal people see the world through their culture, through language, dance, song and spirituality. To take this away is surely one of the biggest travesties committed. My greatest gift is the generational handing down of Aboriginal practices, of respect of knowledge and Aboriginal ways of doing.

As with the greatest tragedies across the world, people carry the scars  and as a community we can never forget, we can never get over what happened to us. We can never forget that we were treated less than human  that our race was deemed expendable and governments in power decided it was best to wipe our race out through assimilationist policies.

No, we will never forget. This is why today is so important to us.

My love and respect goes to all the Stolen Generations out there today, some of whom I know will be struggling, to all the families who were separated, to all the mothers and fathers whose children were taken. To those who are remembering those lost and saddened by stolen lives.

If we do celebrate anything on National Sorry Day, it is the legacy of those who lived and gave evidence to the historic Inquiry Into the Removal of Aboriginal Children and what this gave us.

In the face of adversity, the Stolen Generations demonstrated beyond any doubt their tenacity and bravery  and against all odds, many found their way home.

As the CEO of a large Aboriginal community controlled organisation that has child and family services as well as services for the Stolen Generations, I can say that a lot of work has been done to address the inequalities, to close the gap between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people but there is still much more to do.

VACCA runs the Link-Up Victoria program which supports the Stolen Generations to find their family, to be reconnected to them and works to ensure that they are able to proudly reclaim their Aboriginal heritage and culture.

So yes, we are still bringing our mob home. We are still reuniting Aboriginal people with their families. We are still bringing families together.

Here in Victoria, the State Government recently announced that it would create a Reparations Scheme for the Stolen Generations. This was fantastic news. Reparations is something that VACCA, the Stolen Generations and other organisations and services have been calling for since the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament on this day 26th May in 1997  some 23 years ago.

I look forward to the development of the scheme over the coming months and to its implementation in 2021.

National Sorry Day is a day for the Stolen Generations. It is a day for all of us to remember with affection the courage of our people and the value of their resilience.

It’s a time to honour those Stolen Generations who have gone before us and to acknowledge those who suffer still from the effects.

It is a day for all of us to support the Stolen Generations and their families and stand together for truth, justice and healing.

Most importantly, it is a day to celebrate our survival and I thank those Stolen Generations for making their way home to us."

Muriel Bamblett, VACCA CEO

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material. To listen to our Acknowledgement of Country, click here.