Yesterday marked the 12th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. 12 years have passed since the National Apology and there is still much work to done to bring about true reconciliation.
I attended the launch of Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation Mobile Education Centre (KBHAC) – a mobile bus which acts as an interactive mobile museum and truth telling site. The bus will travel around New South Wales and people will hear firsthand the stories of the men, some as young as two years of age when they were forcibly removed from their families and sent to Kinchela Boys Training Home (1924-1970).
Their treatment in extremely difficult conditions continues to impact their lives. They were stripped of their names and only referred to as a number. They were punished by having to be chained to a tree and left outside over night. All while only being young boys away from their family and land. I’ve had the privilege of working with the Uncles over the last couple of years and their stories are at once deeply challenging and inspiring. While they have endured so much and have had to deal with such pain and trauma, they continue to be incredibly strong and powerful advocates for change, creating and building KBHAC as a place for so many of their KBH brothers and their families to find healing.
At the launch of their mobile education centre I was struck once more by this pain that the Uncles as well as Aunties in Cootamundra Girls and Bomaderry Girls went through as part of the Stolen Generations. I was also moved by the resilience and determination of them to tell their stories and help their families and our nation to heal. As KBHAC CEO, Tiffany McComsey said, “this story is important for all Australians to hear, no matter how long you’ve been here” and we are all part of the healing that takes place. We must listen to these stories and ensure that they do not happen again.
Here are a few links you may want to reflect on, especially as you reflect on the National Apology at this time.
A video put together by Reconciliation Australia on the National Apology and what it meant:
A short news report on the 10th anniversary of the National Apology to Stolen Generations:
The website for Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation https://kinchelaboyshome.org.au and educational resources put together by Caritas and KBHAC: https://www.caritas.org.au/learn/schools/secondary-school-teaching-resources
And finally, a prayer from NATSICC the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Council on reconciliation.
Reconciliation Prayer from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Council (www.natsicc.org.au)
Holy Father, God of Love,
You are the Creator of all things.
We acknowledge the pain and shame of our history
and the sufferings of Our peoples,
and we ask your forgiveness.
We thank you for the survival of Indigenous cultures
Our hope is in you because you gave your Son Jesus
to reconcile the world to you.
We pray for your strength and grace to forgive, accept and love one another, as you love us and forgive and accept us in the sacrifice of your Son.
Give us the courage to accept the realities of our history so that we may build a better
future for our Nation.
Teach us to respect all cultures.
Teach us to care for our land and waters.
Help us to share justly the resources of this land. Help us to bring about spiritual and social change to improve the quality of life for all groups in our communities, especially the disadvantaged.
Help young people to find true dignity and self-esteem by your Spirit.
May your power and love be the foundations on which we build our families, our communities and our Nation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Wontulp Bi-Buya Indigenous Theology Working Group 13 March 1997 Brisbane, Qld).
Patrice Moriarty is the Social Justice Coordinator for the Diocese of Parramatta.