National Sorry Day & Public Education Day
Celebrating and commemorating together.
Today is National Sorry Day. It started in 1998, following recommendations by the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report, about the forcible removal of Indigenous children from their families, communities and cultural identities carried out by the government between the 1800s and the 1970s. On this day, we celebrate the historic 2008 apology by then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the Stolen Generations, and we commemorate with the Stolen Generations and the First Nations Peoples of Australia, acknowledging the enactment and resulting effects of past policies of forced removals that continue into today.
It is also Public Education Day, amid Public Education Week. Today, we also celebrate the values, traditions and achievements of public education in Australia. The day recognises the learning successes of all students and the commitment of teachers, staff and parents to the public education system in Australia. It is nothing less than a celebration of equity, and the inarguable right of all children to a fair education.
Gonski ATSI Delegation to Parliament, February 2016
Is there a link between the two? We say there is. We encourage all members and supporters of public education to tell the story of dispossession and alienation that is an integral part of our complex, shared national story, wherever you are able to do so. By learning from the past, commemorating and celebrating together, we can share responsibility for both the successes and struggles of today. That includes school communities getting together and reflecting on the meaning of National Sorry Day, it includes our strong campaigning for Gonski and needs-based funding commitments made by Labor and the Greens in this federal election campaign. It includes recognising that many are fighting the Northern Territory intervention and suspension of racial discrimination laws, just as we are fighting for needs-based education funding, so that students who need resources the most get them.
Let us commemorate, celebrate, share our stories, and yes -- let us fight, together.