26 May: When Australia Said Sorry

A coalition of Australian community groups came together on May 26th, 1998 for the country’s first “National Sorry Day”, an annual day of atonement for the social-engineering policy that ripped an estimated 50,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families between 1910 and the 1970s.

The first Sorry Day was marked with 300 events around the nation, and more than 1,000 people attended a ceremony in Parliament House, Canberra, but it took Australia’s government another decade to utter an official apology.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how in the Year 2000, skywriters turned the heavens into the biggest billboard of apology ever; speculate on whether Australia Day will be abolished due to its colonial associations; and discover that there is in fact one word that is harder to say than “sorry”… 

Content warning: This episode contains discussion of the Stolen Generations, which may be distressing to some listeners. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that the episode also contains mentions of deceased people.

Further Reading:

• ‘From the Archives, 1998: Thousands say sorry, but not PM’ (The Age, 1998): https://www.theage.com.au/national/from-the-archives-1998-thousands-say-sorry-but-not-pm-20210521-p57tyr.html 

• ‘Peter Dutton says it was a ‘mistake’ walking out on the apology to the Stolen Generations’ (The Daily Mail, 2022): https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10866871/Peter-Dutton-admits-mistake-boycotted-national-apology-Stolen-Generations.html 

• ‘This Is Why Australia Has “National Sorry Day”’ (Time, 2015): https://time.com/3890518/national-sorry-day/ 

• ‘Australia’s first “Sorry Day” (1998)’ (ABC Australia, 2021):


#1990s #Australia #Indigenous