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Congratulations and welcome to friends, family and others who have found something of interest in my blog. The reason that I have created this blog is to share some of my experiences regarding my own journey of writing and publishing my autobiography. I am really excited and motivated about this whole process. I hope that what I write about is interesting to you and thank you for your encouragement and support.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

National Sorry Day 2011

Today is National Sorry Day 2011 and I attended the Adelaide event which was held at Tarndanyangga (Victoria Square).  

John Browne the Chair of the South Australia Journey of Healing Committee asked me if I would give a brief speech regarding the significance of today.

So here it is;

I would like to acknowledge the land that we meet on today which is the traditional lands of the Kaurna people.
My name is Joy Makepeace and I also acknowledge that I am not from South Australia as I am a Kamilaroi woman from Northern New South Wales.  I must admit that I haven’t always known who my people were and where I was from and even who I was.  The reason for this is because I was separated from my Aboriginal family when I was a baby and became a ward of the state, then fostered and later adopted to the Makepeace family.   In my birth family I am the 9th child of 12 children, which is made up of 7 boys and 5 girls.  None of the 12 of us grew up with our birth mother.  So yes I do identify as being a member of the Stolen Generation. 

Today I have been asked by John Browne – the Chairperson of the SA Journey of Healing Committee to say a few words regarding the significance of National Sorry Day.  Some of you may have heard the speech that I gave at Nunkuwarrin Yunti earlier this year regarding the 3rd Anniversary of the National Apology, so today instead of repeating what I said there I wanted to highlight why todays “National Sorry Day” is and always has been and always will be significant despite the recent National Apology.

Therefore today is not just another day on the calendar.  Today marks the 14th anniversary of when “The Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their families” was tabled in Federal Parliament.  This report resulted in 54 recommendations.  Holding a National Sorry Day each year on 26 May “to commemorate the history of forcible removals and its effects.”  is just one of those recommendations. Today is a day to pause, to grieve together and to re-commit ourselves to a better future.

One of the other 54 recommendations was that a National Apology be delivered.  We know that this has occurred and many believe that this is where the story ends.  However, unfortunately there are still many recommendations that have been overlooked and not yet fulfilled.  Undoubtedly there is still much work to be done.

Today’s National Sorry Day theme is “Still living on borrowed time” and I agree whole heartedly that time is running out.  How much more time do we have to wait for reparation, compensation, restitution, record preservation and freedom of personal information.  Much of this is based on amending legislation and the development of memorandums of understanding, which undoubtedly takes much consultation and negotiation.  Meanwhile we are “living on borrowed time” and are expected to have rehabilitated, reconnected and reunified our broken hearts and communities.  I understand that this is not something that is going to happen overnight, but it is also something that should not take a life time. 

My message to you today is already written within today’s “National Sorry Day” theme “still living on borrowed time”.  As hard as it may seem, the point is exactly that, if you are here today then you are “still living” and your job is not done.   

Every one of us here has the ability to make a difference and to change our future.  We do not have to be chained to our past and if we want change then we have to be the change because things will not change unless things change.  

In saying this, I encourage you to stop waiting to die thinking what if and start living in hope, of what could be.

Thank you.

Joy Makepeace

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