An Aboriginal smoking ceremony, a sorry walk and stories of the Stolen Generations marked the City of Whittlesea’s commemoration of National Sorry Day.
The event, at council’s Civic Centre in South Morang, included a welcome to country as well as a keynote speech from Connecting Home chief executive Lisa Zammit, who spoke about the Stolen Generations and redress scheme.
Local community Elder Uncle Herb Patten then guided attendees through a sorry walk to the sorry space at the civic centre, and flags were lowered to half-mast to honour members of the Stolen Generations who did not come home.
City of Whittlesea administrator and Whittlesea Reconciliation Group member Peita Duncan said the day was about taking time to pause and understand the impact of the Stolen Generations.
“Sorry Day is about understanding the impact of our history on Aboriginal people. It’s about ensuring there is understanding and truth-telling of the history of this country,” she said.
“We first commemorated National Sorry Day here at council in 2002, led by the late Uncle Reg Blow and the Whittlesea Reconciliation Group.
“Today, some 20 years later, we reaffirm our commitment to reconciliation, and to continuing to build relationships and understanding.”
Ms Duncan said with the second largest Aboriginal population in metropolitan Melbourne, council had taken significant steps towards reconciliation in recent years.
Having completed its Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, the City of Whittlesea will soon begin work on an updated Reconciliation Action Plan.
Council is also working with the local community to create an Aboriginal Gathering Place.
“Moving forward in the City of Whittlesea we want to deepen our understanding of our rich Aboriginal culture and heritage and through initiatives such as the Aboriginal Gathering Place, the City of Whittlesea hopes to foster positive change and reconciliation with the First Nations people of this land,” Ms Duncan said.
Sorry Day falls on the eve of Reconciliation Week, from May 27 to June 3. The 2022 theme is ‘Be brave. Make change’.