"Sorry Day provides a chance to turn sentiment into action"

HREOC media release – Friday, 23 May 2008

“National Sorry Day (Monday, 26 May) is the perfect catalyst to turn sentiment into action for members of the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma said today.

“The National Apology was a defining moment in our nation’s history, but it is now time to take the step beyond sorry and address the outstanding needs of the Stolen Generations,” Commissioner Calma said.

“National Sorry Day puts the spotlight again on the challenges we face as a nation in eliminating the gap between the life advantages of non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians. But for members of the Stolen Generations, there are distinct challenges that must be directly faced – simply focussing on closing the gap won’t do.

“There is a pressing need to focus on those measures that will advance the healing process for the Stolen Generations. The focus in the coming months must be on consultation with Stolen Generations members on how best to promote a healing agenda and respond holistically to the recommendations of the Bringing them home report. ”

“The federal government has already said it intends to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, so let’s hope this consultative approach to healing can be adopted by all governments around Australia.

“Partnership across all areas is essential to long-term and sustainable improvements in health and standards of living for all Indigenous Australians, specifically for the Stolen Generations,” Mr Calma said.

Commissioner Calma said National Sorry Day was also a day of reflection to recognise and pay respect to those who were forcibly removed from their families, and those who have fought hard for recognition of the life experiences of the Stolen Generations. It is a day on which we reaffirm the inherent value and dignity of Indigenous peoples in this country. “