As part of the ARA’s reconciliation journey, we have made a commitment to use our reach to raise awareness with our members about days of significance for First Nations communities, like National Sorry Day on the 26th of May each year.
To understand the importance of National Sorry Day though, we need to remember its origins.
The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998, one year after the Bringing Them Home Report was tabled in Parliament.
This report was a result of a Government Inquiry into the past policies which caused children to be removed from their families and communities in the 20th century – known as the Stolen Generation.
The purpose of Sorry Day is to ask us to acknowledge the Stolen Generations, and in doing so, reminds us that historical injustice is still an ongoing source of intergenerational trauma for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities.
Truth-telling is important and the apology to the Stolen Generation by former prime minster Kevin Rudd was symbolic and substantive, but there is still more work to be done.
- It has been twelve years since the National Apology and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are still 10.6 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be removed from their families.
- In Australia, Aboriginal infants die more often than non-Indigenous infants, and Aboriginal people have more than double the rate of illness, with a life expectancy almost 10 years shorter that non-Indigenous Australians.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples still have some of the poorest health outcomes of any group of people in the world and suicide amongst Indigenous people aged between 15-44 account for approximately 50% of all deaths in that age group.
Whilst we have made progress on our journey towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, the reality is that we still have a long way to go until we right the wrongs of the past and achieve equality.
As retailers, we have a unique opportunity to engage our employees and customers on important days of significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including National Sorry Day.
Our members’ brands are known and trusted. Their products are in tens of millions of homes across the country. And, as the country’s largest private sector employer, retailers employ one-in-ten Australians.
It has become increasingly important to the community that purpose-driven organisations use their influence to advocate for equality and promote social justice issues.
This responsibility extends to calling out the legacy of systematic racism, oppression and disposition of First Nations peoples, and stepping up to play our part in addressing the injustices of the past that continue to have a devastating impact on some parts of the Indigenous community today.