National Sorry Day is coming up in a few days. Have you ever wondered if you know the whole story?
Australia holds 26 May National Sorry Day every year, yet many people do not know what it represents. We are here to tell you about the history of National Sorry Day, what it means, and how to honour it today.
Raising awareness about the significance of 26 May National Sorry Day is very important. Racism is a prevalent problem in Australia today. As the country’s only Islamic Super Fund, one of the things we focus on is discussing the effects of racism.
This is why it is so important to talk about National Sorry Day. Australia’s Indigenous People deserve to have their story told.
Let’s take a look at the meaning of 26 May National Sorry Day and racial discrimination in Australia today.
What Is 26 May National Sorry Day?
National Sorry Day is an annual event in Australia that is on 26 May. Its meaning reflects the mistreatment of the country’s indigenous peoples. The event reflects the continuous process of healing and remembrance between the Indigenous peoples and the settler population.
It also resembles a time of healing for the Stolen Generations, their families, and their communities. It is not a public holiday, but people across the country hold special activities and events to commemorate the day.
National Sorry Day patron Sir Ronald Wilson said that the truth about the Stolen Generations is horrific. He described it as genocidal and one of the most dreadful periods of child removal in Australian history.
When Did This Start?
The first time that 26 May National Sorry Day occurred was in 1998. This occurred one year after the Bringing Them Home report was sent to Parliament. The report is a result of an inquiry into past policies that separated children from their families in the 20th century. Due to this, the government issued an apology to the Stolen Generations, which happened in 2000.
At this time, an independent organization wrote the word “Sorry” in the sky above the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This gave the members of the Stolen Generations a feeling of support and acceptance.
As a result, the traditions are still in place today. People are aware that they cannot fix the problems of the past, so they are doing their best to combat injustice in the modern-day.
History and Background
On 26 May 1997, the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament. It consisted of information about the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.
In these events, people took children away from their families by force and taken to a new place of care. The motive of these actions was to “turn them into white Australians”, as said by sociologist John Torpey.
The Prime Minister at the Time was John Howard. John Howard refused to apologize to the Stolen Generation. He claimed that he “did not subscribe to the black armband view of history”.
However, he slowly changed his mind. On 26 August 1999, John Howard moved a Motion of Reconciliation. This included his feelings of regret towards the Indigenous Australians for the injustice and trauma that they faced.
Some politicians disagreed with his motion because it did not include an unreserved apology. Many people believe that annual commemorations should raise awareness among politicians. This is how they saw National Sorry Day and how they wanted it to be commemorated.
On 28 May 2000, over 250,000 people participated in a walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation organized it as a means of protest. They wanted an official government apology to the Indigenous people and a way to show solidarity in the issue.
In 2005, 26 May National Sorry Day was renamed “National Day of Healing”. This motion was tabled in Parliament by Senator Aden Ridgeway. It was a sign that the country needed to heal to achieve reconciliation. You may be interested in reading 8 reasons why Australia Day should be changed.
On 13 February 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd moved the Apology to Indigenous Australians. Kevin Rudd’s apology was formal and official, and he became the first Australian Prime Minister to publicly apologize on behalf of the government to the Stolen Generation.
The apology was passed unanimously in both Houses of Parliament. As a result, thousands of people came to listen to the apology in the Great Hall and Outside of the Parliament House. Large gatherings occurred across the country in schools, offices, and public squares as well.
How Is Discrimination Still Happening Today?
Race discrimination is still prominent in Australia. The country is primarily white, and people may be treated unfairly because of their race, ethnicity, or nationality.
In 2014, 20% of Australians said that they experience discrimination because of their skin colour. Despite the work on achieving reconciliation, racism is still a big problem across the country.
Since the colonizers arrived in Australia. there has been much misunderstanding about Aboriginal culture. People have refused to learn about the Indigenous peoples, which resulted in a lot of violence and hatred.
Many Aboriginal people were killed by the white settlers. White settlers also tried to convert Aboriginal people to their beliefs and culture.
Even today, Aboriginal people feel that they are not understood or represented by the Australian government. Many legislative acts do not reflect their point of view and they are often left out of the decision-making process.
While Anti-discrimination laws are in order, they have done little to prevent this behaviour. Instead, people seem to prefer Aboriginal people to assimilate in order to be like “mainstream Australians”.
However, this would eliminate and erase their entire culture. To prevent this from happening, many other campaigns and rules have been put in place.
Close the Gap is a social justice campaign in Australia that prioritizes Indigenous health. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd incorporated its goals in 2008 in his strategy called Closing the Gap. In 2009, he committed to making progress each year in this strategy.
In addition to this, the Australian Human Rights Commission has been working with the government to create anti-racism strategies. By using the power of the government, prominent Australian leaders can speak out against racism and take a stand.
While this process is small, progress is being made. The country is slowly becoming more aware of racism and how to better itself. By deeming racism as unacceptable, Australians are paving the way for a better future.
What Do People Do Each Year?
There are many 26 May National Sorry Day activities that people participate in each year. These may include concerts, barbecues, and flag-raising events. Other people may also hold teas or lunches, speeches from community leaders, and street marches.
The Aboriginal flag and Torres Strait Islander flag are raised on 26 May National Sorry Day. This shows respect for the Indigenous peoples and demonstrates that the country is working toward unity.
The Aboriginal flag is black on the top and red on the bottom. There is also a yellow circle in the middle. The black represents Australia’s Aboriginal people and the yellow symbolizes the Sun. The red represents the relationship that the people have with the land.
The Torres Strait Islander flag stands for unity and identity. It consists of three horizontal stripes. The top and bottom are green, and there is a stripe of blue in the middle. A black line divides each stripe on the flag. There is also a white dharri, or headdress, in the centre with five stars under it.
The colour green represents the land, the black represents the people, and the blue represents the sea. The dharri symbolizes all of the Torres Strait Islanders and the five stars symbolize the island groups.
Both of these flags represent each group of people. Raising them each year is a way to celebrate their culture and apologize for the wrongful actions of the colonizers.
One of the activities that stands out is signing “sorry books”. Writing messages and signing sorry books is a way to show commitment to the reconciliation process. It is a way to show one’s support for fulfilling the ideals in the Bringing Them Home report.
Children may take part in National Sorry Day activities as well. This can include essay competitions, lighting candles for the Indigenous Australians, and listening to local Indigenous Australian elders give a speech.
These are just a few of the ways that people spend 26 May National Sorry Day. While there are many ways to honour the Stolen Generation, raising awareness about racism is a great place to start.
26 May National Sorry Day emphasizes the value of unity. As the world progresses, we need to lead by example and respect each other. Racial discrimination has no place here, and Crescent Wealth is standing up against the harm of Indigenous Australians.
Crescent Wealth Super encourage you to speak up and raise awareness about racial discrimination on 26 May National Sorry Day. This is a great opportunity to improve our community and country. Accepting all races and ethnicities is a powerful way to move towards unity.
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