Remembering Stolen Generations: National Sorry Day 2023

Wiradjuri/Wiradyuri and First Nations Elders and community members gathered at the Sorry Day Rock, located in the Wollundry Lagoon precinct on Friday (26 May) to commemorate National Sorry Day.

The day provided a chance for people to come together in the healing process for the Stolen Generations who were forcibly removed from their family and communities.

Council’s Aboriginal Development Officer Bernard Higgins said young people featured heavily in this year’s ceremony at the request of the wider First Nations community, including Senior Elders, the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and Mawang Gaway.

“Two young people performed the Acknowledgment in Wiradyuri language and in English, while others shared poems and statements about what Sorry Day means to them, and how it has impacted them, their family and community,” Mr Higgins said.

“It was also moving to see each of the Elders accompanied by a young person for lighting the candles before the Minute’s Silence in remembrance of the Stolen Generation Survivors and in particular the children who did not return home.

Two Wiradjuri Elders with school student lighting candles at National Sorry Day ceremony

“This aligns with the Reconciliation Week 2023 theme ‘Be A Voice for Generations’. By actively creating these opportunities now, especially giving young people platforms to speak, we are putting reconciliation into action.”

In his Civic Welcome, Mayor of the City of Wagga Wagga Councillor Dallas Tout described National Sorry Day as a time to reflect on past mistreatment of the First Nations peoples of Australia and in particular, the Stolen Generation.

“Whilst we cannot go back and change history, we can choose to name it, shame it and do what we can to play a part in the healing process and in reconciling with the past for a brighter future,” Cr Tout said.

“Council is committed to this and we are willing to do the work required to play our part for our community.

“Today is also about acknowledging the strength of Stolen Generation survivors.

“Their existence alone is testament to their tenacity to survive, their heart to remain open and welcoming in this world and their courage to persevere in maintaining a connection to their culture; being true to who they are at all costs so that this strength can be passed on for generations to come.”

Man playing didgeridoo at National Sorry Day ceremony
TRADITION: The National Sorry Day ceremony closed with a didgeridoo performance by local Wiradjuri/Wiradyuri man Luke Wighton.

National Sorry Day is followed by National Reconciliation Week 2023 from 27 May to 3 June.

The theme for 2023 is ‘Be A Voice for Generations’. Reconciliation Australia is encouraging all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in their everyday lives.

Council has put together a curated community-led program entitled Nguluway – which translated from Wiradjuri/Wiradyuri to English means Meeting Each Other. All the events on the program are free, although some will require a booking to attend.

To access the full program:

National Reconciliation Week

Nguluway Reconciliation Week 2023

Monday 29 May 2023

Family History Session: Honeysett Family History

10am – 12 pm | Museum of the Riverina Botanic Gardens site

Oral History Session: Cootamundra Girls Home

1pm – 3pm | Museum of the Riverina Botanic Gardens site

Cultural Walk with Uncle James Ingram – open community

10am – 1pm | Meeting at Wagga Beach

Wednesday 31 May 2023

National Reconciliation Week Breakfast (Livestream)

7:30am – 9am I Wagga Wagga City Council’s Civic Centre

Youth event with RAAF and other Defence cadets

4pm – 5pm | Ngurra Hub, Ashmont

Thursday 1 June 2023

Cultural Walk with Uncle James Ingram – for school students only

10am – 1pm | Meeting at Wagga Beach

Documentary Screening “In My Own Words” and “Servant or Slave”

5pm – 7pm | Wiradjuri Hall, Senior Citizens Centre, 204 Tarcutta Street Wagga Wagga

Friday 2 June 2023

Nguluway Closing Ceremony

11am | Chambers Park, Bruce Street, Tolland

/Public Release. View in full here.