Commission Says Sorry Day Still Needs to Be Marked

Monday 18 May 2009

Sorry (Tony Albert)

Sorry (Tony Albert)

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged Catholics to continue to commemorate National Sorry Day on 26 May.

National Sorry Day has been marked on this day each year since the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s Bringing Them Home Report was handed to the Federal Government in 1997.

The report details the Commission’s findings from an inquiry into the policy of forcible removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities over much of the twentieth century.

The Day precedes National Reconciliation Week which runs from the anniversary of the 1967 referendum on May 27 when Indigenous people were recognized as citizens and the anniversary of the High Court’s recognition of native title in the Mabo Case on 3 June.

The Brisbane Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that Indigenous people place great importance on National Sorry Day because it gives them an opportunity to remember the grief and loss they have suffered as a result of the policy.

“Despite the momentous apology of the Federal Parliament to members of the Stolen Generations on 13 February 2008, there is still much healing to be done,” Mr Arndt said.

“There is still much pain and trauma for many Aboriginal people because of this practice,” he said.

“The Federal Government recognized this fact when they announced the establishment of a Stolen Generations Healing Foundation on the first anniversary of the apology this year,” he said.

“There will be a number of National Sorry Day ceremonies at Bringing Them Home Plaques around Brisbane and at various locations in South-East Queensland on the day and we would encourage Catholics to join with Indigenous people in remembering the pain and making commitments to be a part of the healing process,” he said.

“We would also hope that parishes and schools around the Archdiocese will mark the day in some way,” he said.

“Despite the apology, there is still a lot of ignorance about the forcible removal policies and this must be addressed,” he said.

“The Bringing Them Home Home Report recommended education about the practice in schools and for a range of professionals who work with Indigenous people,” he said.

“We cannot come to terms with the on-going effects of the trauma of forcible removal unless we know the history,” he said.

“Teachers, police, lawyers, social workers, doctors and nurses all need to know what happened so they can understand why there are problems for some Indigenous people,” he said.

“We ask Catholics to read summaries of the Bringing Them Home Report and look at its recommendations,” he said.

“When you read the recommendations, it becomes very clear that there is still so much more that needs to be done,” he said.

“We must also keep asking Governments why they reject recommendations that affected people receive reparations payments,” he said.

“The Tasmanian Government has established a standard for the Federal Government and other State and Territory Governments in making reparations payments to members of the Stolen Generations a couple of years ago,” he said.

“We should all be asking the Federal Government and our own Queensland Government to follow Tasmania’s example,” he said.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Charter which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

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