Friday 26 May marks the twentieth anniversary of the tabling in Federal Parliament of the “Bringing Them Home” report into the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. The inquiry was headed by Sir Ronald Wilson, President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, and Mick Dodson, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.
Sorry Day was first held on 26 May 1998, exactly one year later, to ensure that the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which began as early as the mid-1800s and continued until as late as the 1970s, would not be forgotten.
Sorry Day is an important moment to remember the past policies of forced child removal, to reflect on the sad and painful history of the Stolen Generations, and recognise moments of resilience, healing and the power of saying Sorry.
Although laws specifically designed to remove Indigenous children from their families were officially repealed decades ago, as far as Indigenous people are concerned, their children continue to be removed through the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Due to the entrenched disadvantage and ongoing dispossession of Indigenous Australians, contemporary laws continue to discriminate against Indigenous families where raising children is concerned.
Brisbane-based indigenous organisation Link Up (Qld)* will be once again commemorating Sorry Day on Friday 26 May with a special service to be held on the site of Cranbrook House, an Aboriginal Girls Hostel in Orleigh Park, West End. See http://westender.com.au/cranbrook-house-remembered-link-not-publish-yet/
Keynote speaker will be Dr Valerie Cooms, whose own grandmother was an inmate of Cranbrook House.
Dr Cooms has a doctorate in political history from the Australian National University, and was a visiting research fellow in the Native Title Research Unit at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) from 2009 to 2012.
Other speakers include Sam Watson, Chair of Link Up (Qld)’s Board of Directors, Rhonda Collard-Spratt, a West Australian indigenous author who has just released Alice’s Daughter, a story of Rhonda’s search for culture and family as she faces violence, racism, foster families, and her father’s death in custody (see http://avidreader.com.au/events/alices-daughter-jacki-ferro-rhonda-collard-spratt ) and Josephine Jack, a Garawa woman from far Western Queensland who was recently assisted by Link Up Qld to reunite with family in Darwin.
Musical entertainment will be provided by the Meanjin and Songlines community choirs, and award-winning indigenous Country Music singer Bessie Peters.
A rare treat for those attending will be a performance by Chris Tamoy, a self-taught guitarist with a unique playing style and sound.
Spending his childhood years with family in the Torres Strait Islands, Chris has attracted a lot of attention in recent years, in print media, radio, touring nationally, appearing on various documentaries and television shows including ‘Australia’s Got Talent’, and at many large events including TEDx. His unique guitar-tap style and vibrant personality see him in high-demand, with highlight gigs including Byron Bay Blues Festival 25th Anniversary, Woodford Folk Festival (QLD), Port Fairy Folk Festival (VIC), Darwin Festival, and many other shows throughout Australia.
Sorry Day Event Friday 26 May Orleigh Park Hill End Terrace WEST END
8 AM Hot breakfast served by Micah Projects and others 9 am – 11 am Speakers and entertainment
About Link-Up (Qld)
Link-Up (Qld) Aboriginal Corporation supports the healing journeys of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been separated from their families and cultures through forced removal, fostering, adoption and/or institutionalisation.
*See http://www.link-upqld.org.au/home.html for more info.