29 May 2023

Healing history's scars: Wagga community unites to say sorry to Stolen Generations

| Jarryd Rowley
Start the conversation
public gathering

Local First Nations elders, school representatives, politicians and other members of the Wagga community gathered around the Sorry Rock outside the Wagga Civic Theatre to apologise for the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of National Sorry Day. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

Members of the Wagga Wagga community gathered at the Sorry Rock to acknowledge the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during the Stolen Generations as part of National Sorry Day.

Stolen Generations survivors were acknowledged at the Wollundry Lagoon precinct during a service attended by First Nations elders, school students, Mayor Dallas Tout, State MP Dr Joe McGirr and members of the public.

“First Nations people have the oldest culture in the world. They’ve lived in Australia for 60-65,000 years,” Mayor Tout said.

READ ALSO Beloved Griffith nonna celebrates 100th birthday in Yoogali

“As a country, today is National Sorry Day, and next week is Reconciliation Week, for our regional community and many others around Australia, it is where we apologise for our contributions to the Stolen Generation.

“We have a lot of survivors here in Wagga and it is important to acknowledge them and the pain caused on them, it is important that we acknowledge that although today is National Sorry Day, not everything from that period has been sorted.

“It is important as a community that we have these hard discussions and talk about what actually happened and what has been documented and get it out to the public.

“It is important to be aware and have it in our hearts to acknowledge what our country did to First Nations people and action our apologies, not just say it.”

First Nations Wiradjuri elder Aunty Gail Manderson said she believed Sorry Day was a step in the direction of generational healing.

“Sorry Day is recognition that we [First Nations people] were taken,” Aunty Gail said.

READ ALSO First Nations entrepreneurs to present ideas at an innovation showcase

“Not all Stolen Generations are known, there were children who were taken out of their homes and put into white homes, but there are also young babies who were adopted out. There are no records of a lot of those children.

“Sorry Day acknowledges those children as well as other mistreatment of First Nations people. It’s a part of Australian history whether people accept it or not. There is documentation to back it up.

“Australia has a black history and it is important that it is remembered and it needs to be known.”

As part of Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June), several events around Wagga Wagga, including Wiradjuri history sessions, language classes and cultural walks, will be held to help the community learn about the shared histories, cultures and achievements of First Nations people.

To view all the activities planned for Reconciliation Week, click here.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.