Seek Justice

Sorry Day

On Thursday 26 May, the John XXIII College Year 9 Magis students visited Wellington Square for Perth's Sorry Day event. National Sorry Day takes place on 26 May every year and commemorates the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report to the Australian Parliament in 1997. This report acknowledged stolen generations of Aboriginal Australians where "children (were) separated, often forcibly, from their families in the interest of turning them into white Australians".

Starting in 1998, National Sorry Day is a nationally recognised day when we are able to recognise the Stolen Generations as part of our shared history. The day also recognises the important step of acknowledgement when the then Prime Minister; Kevin Rudd made his apology speech to the traditional owners and custodians of our land in 2008.

Last Thursday the Year 9s and Ms den Haan made their way to Wellington Square to represent the College at the Perth Sorry Day event. The day began with a Welcome to Country from Professor Len Collard and then speeches from young aboriginal students from our community where we learnt about how negative actions from the past continue to affect them and their families today. The students also took time to reflect on how proud they were to be aboriginal and have aboriginal heritage.

Bri a Year 12 student from Hampden Senior High School brought her three grandmas and her mum onto the stage and shared with us the story of her grandma who was part of the stolen generation. She explained how her grandma was originally taken away from her parents but was able to stay with her sisters. That was up until nobody wanted two aboriginal children, so they had to be split up. At Sorry Day the two sisters who had been separated as children now sat together proudly as Bri told their story.

The day then continued by participating in some activities to demonstrate reconciliation and unity. Some of these activities included aboriginal face painting and making headbands the colours of the Aboriginal flag. The day concluded with members of a traditional Aboriginal dance group performing a dance in traditional clothing and body paint. Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable day where our knowledge of Australia's history and understanding of all that has come before us was greatly enhanced. Listening to all the stories and recounts of what Aboriginal Australians went through, and are still going through to be accepted, makes us appreciative how privileged we are. Sorry Day was a very memorable event for the Year 9s as it opened our eyes to how important it is to accept others; we are all equal, with equal rights.

Written by Penelope Dwyer, Lucy Jenkins, Olivia Purnell and Grace Thomas