National Sorry Day is an important day for Australia’s First Peoples and for Barnardos. On this day we will take time to recognise Australia’s Stolen Generations and the trauma caused by forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and communities. Much of our work with Aboriginal families and communities is as a direct result of various Federal and State Government policies. These policies were based on racist beliefs and resulted in generations of Aboriginal children being denied their culture and identity.

The first National Sorry Day was held on May 26, 1998, which was one year after the tabling of a report about the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. The report, known as Bringing Them Home, acknowledged that Indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families and communities since the early days of European occupation in Australia.

Supporting children, families and communities to recover from trauma is at the heart of our work at Barnardos. We know that culture and identity are vital to a child’s wellbeing. Many people associated with the work of Barnardos – children, young people, families, communities and staff – have been directly or intergenerationally affected by the pain of the Stolen Generations. The recognition of this trauma is an important part of healing.

Nationally, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Out of Home Care has almost doubled in the last 10 years. We are committed to working with families and communities to support them to remain together. For those children in care, we remain committed to ensuring they remain connected to their culture. None of this work is possible without our dedicated Aboriginal staff who deliver programs and services across communities in NSW and the ACT. On Sorry Day, as with every other day, Barnardos Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff will continue to walk together towards healing.