May 26 is National Sorry Day.
This day commemorates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families under Australian government’s policies during the Assimilation era (1910 to 1970).
The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998 and on 13 February 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered an apology to members of the Stolen Generations.
This is the right time to reflect on the equal participation of First Nations people in the federal parliament to create a shared meaning and purpose for all Australians.
No doubt the new parliament will be going to be one of the most diverse in years. However, the total percentage of First Nations peoples in the Federal Parliament is mere 4.4 percent.
- Linda Burney, NSW Labor Member for Barton and new Indigenous Australians Minister.
- Marion Scrymgour, NT Labor Member for Lingiari.
- Gordon Reid, NSW Labor Member for Robertson.
- Lidia Thorpe, Greens Senator for Victoria and spokeswoman for Indigenous Affairs.
- Dorinda Cox, Greens Senator for Western Australia.
- Malarndirri McArthy, Labor Senator for Northern Territory.
- Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Country Liberal Senator for Northern Territory.
- Jana Stewart, Labor Senator for Victoria.
- Pat Dodson, Labor Senator for Western Australia
- Jacqui Lambie, Jacqui Lambie Network Senator for Tasmania
- Ken Wyatt, Liberal Member for Hasluck and former Indigenous Australians minister.
This parliament will also see a number of First Nations parliamentarians but we can do much more!
Five years ago, the Uluru Statement from the Heart that was endorsed by more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders. First Nations leaders have also put forward two potential dates for a referendum: either May 27, 2023 (anniversary of the 1967 Indigenous referendum), or January 27, 2024 (day after Australia Day).
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in his acceptance speech has already acknowledged Indigenous Australians. He said: “On behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I commit to the Uluru Statement.”
All eyes are now set on Linda Burney who would become the first female Aboriginal minister for Indigenous affairs. She recently told The Sydney Morning Herald: “This is an exercise in nation-building, and this will change Australia. It’s just so exciting.”
On this Sorry Day, as always, Australia’s multicultural communities stand with the First nations people in sharing their grief, suffering and injustice.
WATCH: Intergenerational Trauma Animation by The Healing Foundation