Aboriginal children who were forcibly taken from their families will be remembered with a special memorial unveiled today, National Sorry Day, by Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).
The remembrance stone and memorial garden at Mount Druitt Aboriginal Health Hub will be a permanent place for patients, visitors and staff to reflect on past wrongs and also remember anyone who has passed away at Mount Druitt Hospital.
WSLHD Aboriginal Health Strategy director Braiden Abala said it is important to remember the injustices committed by successive governments.
“There is not one Aboriginal family in Australia who is untouched by the Stolen Generations. It has an enduring impact of unhealed intergenerational trauma that continues to affect people today,” Braiden said.
“If we don’t remember the past, it will happen again. If we don’t understand the history and its continuing impact on Aboriginal families and communities, we won’t be able to heal and move forward together.”
Braiden said it is important to observe Sorry Day before National Reconciliation Week, which begins on May 27 – the anniversary of the 1967 referendum, when 90 per cent of Australians agreed that Aboriginal people should be included in the census.
“This was the day when Australia decided we were counted and recognised as Australians. Saying sorry goes hand in hand with reconciliation.”
National Reconciliation Week is about building relationships, respect and trust between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on five key principles: race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity, unity and historical acceptance.
The remembrance stone and memorial garden are the brainchild of Aboriginal Health Services manager Belinda Cashman, who today arranged for Aboriginal elders and other members of the local community to plant native trees in the garden in physically-distanced groups of ten at a time.
“Health played a large role in the stolen generations and it’s important for us to acknowledge that and be aware of any ongoing trust issues,” Belinda said.
“This will be a place where people can reflect on the grief and loss of those who never came home, or those who did but were traumatised by their experience.
“It’s also a place to acknowledge those who have died, remember them and pay our respects.”