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National Sorry Day is an opportunity to remember and acknowledge the Stolen Generations of Australia’s history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We understand that this can be a day of sorrow and pain; a day of mourning and grief, as we remember the mistreatment and profound injustice inflicted on First Nations Peoples and their families.

We think of our own staff, our allies and our communities as we acknowledge this day. In particular, we think about the young people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities. The Stolen Generation.

Communicare accepts and recognises the truth of our history.

We acknowledge that this history is an ongoing source of intergenerational trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples. We acknowledge the strength of Stolen Generation survivors and their families and reflect on how we can all share in the healing process.

The inaugural National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998, one year after the Bringing Them Home Report, an inquiry into the past policies which allowed children to be removed from their families and communities.

It came five years after the United Nations’ General Assembly proclaimed the International Year for the World’s Indigenous People which was launched in Australia by former Prime Minister Paul Keating during the 1992 Redfern Speech.

Ten years later, former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a formal National Apology to Australia’s Stolen Generations, which we now collectively recognise as an essential first step in the reconciliation and healing process.

Communicare is committed to our ongoing reconciliation journey, both internally and within the communities in which we work. This includes a commitment to support the proposal to enshrine in the Australian Constitution an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

A Voice to Parliament will provide First Nations communities with an opportunity to play a role in shaping policy and legal decisions that directly impact on their lives. As outlined in the comprehensive report on the Voice, the constitutional change is about delivering outcomes that will benefit all Australians.

It’s worth noting that one of Australia’s most shameful policy decisions, to remove Aboriginal children from their families, was done without any consultation with the very people impacted and continues to create pain and trauma across multiple generations.

A more recent example of failure to consult and failure to consider, was the destruction of 46,000-year-old caves in Juukan Juukan Gorge. We must do better.

As a society, it’s time to look to the future and explore the possibility of what a First Nations Voice to Parliament might represent on the reconciliation journey. We need to explore and embrace the opportunity to create a fairer, more united Australia.

A united Australia for all Australians.

As we recognise National Sorry Day, we should also reflect on the great work being done every day in our community by people and organisations to build connections with First Nations communities, create bonds, and close the gap.

This includes taking a considered approach to what the Voice is seeking to achieve, rather than backing away from the Yes vote based on ill-founded perceptions that it represents a threat to the ‘Aussie’ way of life.

While we may not always ‘get it right’, we must continue to strive to support our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues, friends, neighbours and communities and deliver better outcomes for the future.

Communicare’s vision for reconciliation is a society that values the cultures and heritage of our First Nations Peoples, respects the land and waters, and provides justice and equity to and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Our organisation is incredibly diverse and we enjoy the benefits of a workforce that reflects the wonderful multiculturalism of our country.

More importantly, we recognise this land is home to the world’s oldest continuing culture, and that’s something all Australians should celebrate and be proud of.


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