About 100 people attended Victoria’s main National Apology Day event today at the Aborigines Advancement League in Melbourne’s north.
The community gathered to hear speeches and personal stories, before enjoying music from Mutti Mutti singer/songwriter Uncle Kutcha Edwards, and a buffet lunch. Among the speakers was the Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Natalie Hutchins.
“Today is about remembering the Stolen Generations, remembering the tenth anniversary, but also for us to come together and support each other - because out of the 54 recommendations [of the Bringing Them Home Report], there have been only 8 implemented,” Wurundjeri Elder and community advocate Aunty Di Kerr told NITV News.
Although it was a day of commemoration, many community members said they remain unimpressed with the little progress on reparations for First Nations Peoples in ten years.
Aunty Lyn Austin, a Stolen Generations survivor, said she didn’t want the meaning of the day to be overshadowed by calls for redress. However, she also hopes that action will soon be taken towards compensation.
“I've travelled all over Australia, nearly 20 plus years campaigning in relation to 'Sorry business', and compensation needs to happen," she said.
"Everyone else gets compensated in Australia and we, as First Peoples of this country, are just overlooked all the time.
“Compensation needs to be pushed by [the] government to all the Stolen Generation members around Australia.”
Member for Northcote, Lidia Thorpe, said she hopes to see redress for people who were victims of the Stolen Generations.
“I’m frustrated and I’m angry that our people are still suffering from being stolen, from being taken away from their families,” Ms Thorpe said.
“17,000 children in out-of-home-care across the country is just an outrage, and whilst we can have an acknowledgement of Sorry Day each year, we need to have change.
“We need to give back something to these families that have been living in this trauma since they’ve been ripped out of their mother’s arms.”
Ms Thorpe said that compensation needs to happen as soon as possible.
“We need to not make it about a political point scoring expedition, it needs to happen now and it needs to happen to each and every Stolen Generation member without question,” she added.