The Journey of Healing will be held on Wednesday May 26 commencing at 6pm. The venue is the Scout Hall, Bilarong Reserve, Wakehurst Parkway, North Narrabeen. On 26 May, 1997, a report tabled in the Federal Parliament shook Australia.

Bringing Them Home detailed painful evidence of the removal of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. It recommended that a ‘Sorry Day’ be held. A year later over half a million people responded, signing Sorry Books and taking part in ceremonies on Sorry Day. In May 1999, this people’s movement launched a Journey of Healing.

Sorry Day events are held annually on May 26

This year marks the 6th anniversary of Sorry Day and it is appropriate that the theme for this year is “Unfinished Business”. Seven years have passed since the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament on May 26, 1997. This report contained 54 main recommendations covering acknowledgement and apology, guarantees against repetition, and restitution and rehabilitation measures.

If one takes account of sub-clauses in the recommendations, there are 83 recommendations. In 2002 Dr Peter O’Brien, assisted by John Bond, prepared a report for the National Sorry Day Committee reporting on the progress in implementing the recommendations of Bringing Them Home. This report asked the question in its title “Are We Helping Them Home?”. It found that despite two rounds of Federal Government funding in 1998 and 2002, where $63 million and $54 million respectively were set aside, this funding “was directed to only 17 of Bringing Them Home recommendations – mainly those dealing with rehabilitation, mental health and family reunion. Some attention was paid to records and languages. Most recommendations received no attention including those dealing with apology and reparations”.

It went on to say that “The failure of the Federal Government to respond to so many of the recommendations has been a serious disappointment. Whilst welcoming the response that has been made, members of the stolen generation remain bewildered and hurt at the lack of commitment which they believe indicates a reluctance to accept as truth what they have related of their experiences”. Unfinished business! The Sorry Day Committee suggest that this theme can be supplemented by subsidiary themes such as ‘It’s time to heal the hurts and right the wrongs’, ‘remembering our mothers and fathers’, or other phrases which Stolen Generation people feel would highlight their concerns. Now is a good time to acknowledge that these initial injustices experienced by the Stolen Generations were further compounded by the experience of the “Stolen Wages”. So it is in this context that the ASG invites residents of the Northern Beaches to participate in the Journey of Healing 2004.

Susan Moylan-Coombs MC ed the evening and weave together a programme that includes an exhibition of art and poetry by local students, dance performances by Aboriginal Dance Troupe Goanna Dreaming, poetry reading, a candlelight ceremony, and the creation of a piece of art guided by artist Nikky McCarthy, followed by a light supper.