One of the many recommendations of the 1997 Bringing Them Home report was that there be an apology to Indigenous people from the institutions involved in establishing and implementing the laws and policies that sanctioned forced removals of children. These institutions include state and national parliaments, police forces, religious organisations, and other non-government agencies. The recommendation was made in recognition of the fact that saying sorry is an act of compassion, understanding and healing. Acknowledgement and apology are essential first steps to reparation and reconciliation.
All state parliaments, the national senate, as well as numerous church organisations and law enforcement bodies have officially expressed sorrow to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for the policies of forced removal and for their ongoing effects. Only the federal government still refuses to fully acknowledge its role in the suffering brought about by its past practices and refused to provide the National Inquiry with information about federal laws and policies associated with child removal. Remaining intractable with regard to a national apology, Prime Minister John Howard has refused to make a distinction between personal guilt for these practices and national shame about them. He has even questioned the very existence of the Stolen Generations in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Australians have not waited for their leader, however, and widely supported the 26 May 1998 National Sorry Day organised to commemorate the history and effects of forcible removals. The day was meant to assist the healing process for members of the Stolen Generations and provide an opportunity for all Australians to reflect on this part of their history.
The Journey of Healing was launched by members of the Stolen Generation from across the country in response to the National Sorry Day and is marked each year on the 26 May anniversary. The Journey of Healing offers every Australian the opportunity to help heal the wounds in their community and better understand the disruption, fear and anguish which pervaded the Aboriginal population due to the removal practices. Each year on the Northern Beaches, a Journey of Healing commemoration is organised by the Aboriginal Support Group-Manly Warringah Pittwater, along with many others in the area and hundreds of others across the country.
For more information on National Sorry Day and the Journey of Healing, https://healingfoundation.org.au/
as well as the Resources section Stolen Generations of this website.