National Sorry Day – My Reflections by Bonnie Dukakis

This day is an opportunity to reflect, to take time out and remember all the children and young people, their families, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, siblings impacted by the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people from their family, country and culture.

We saw in 2008, the government of the day address the nation to issue an apology to all members of the Stolen Generations many of whom were not here to hear it for themselves. 

Fast forward to 2022, it marks 25 years since the ‘Bringing them Home’ report was tabled, making recommendations to address both the historical and contemporary removal of Aboriginal children and young people. Yet we continue to see the rise in removal rates of our children since 1997. 

For me the narrative of today feels much aligned with a disassociation of accountability not only to the past but to the present. I look at the impact this has had and continues to have on those around me, including within my immediate and extended family, with my dad and his siblings being removed in the early 1960s. 

Empathising with the mothers, aunties and grandmothers that have ever experienced a child being removed. To my nan, who had 8 of her 9 children removed. To my aunties and uncles that grew up in foster care without choice or voice.

To the children and young people who are in or have ever been impacted by the system. To those wanting to come home and struggling to find their place. We see you and support you on your journey to return to Country, family, community and culture. 

To be in a position now that has a voice to challenge systems and spaces responsible for caring for our next generation is an honour – I don’t take lightly. To do this with the stories and experiences front of mind, of my own family, the stories young people I have worked with have entrusted to me, to elevate the realities of what generational healing looks like.

Remember with intergenerational trauma also comes intergenerational resilience, strength and resistance that is with you everyday, from your old people and shared through the stories of strength and courage of those before us. 

Photo of Bonnie and her Dad, Lionel.

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