Stolen generations commemorative badge, Sorry Day - 26th May

c. 1998

Donated by John Ellis

Museum of Australian Democracy collection

This badge was produced to acknowledge National Sorry Day, held to express regret for the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. The generations of children who were removed from their families under this government policy, which operated from 1909 to 1969, have become known as the Stolen Generations.

In the 1990s the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission commenced an inquiry into the forced removal of the children. The Bringing Them Home report, tabled in Parliament on 26 May 1997, acknowledged the longstanding practice and the devastating impact that the removal policies had on children and their families. One of the key recommendations of the report was an official apology from the government.

As part of the grassroots campaign calling for an apology, the first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998. The day was marked by ceremonies, meetings and celebrations and by the signing of Sorry Books by hundreds of thousands of Australians. On 13 February 2008 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tabled a motion in Parliament apologising to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Australian Government.

The donor of this badge, John Ellis, writes:

I had been a supporter of Aboriginal rights since I became aware of the disgraceful treatment of Aborigines by successive white Australian Governments. Charlie Perkins and the Freedom Rides alerted us in the 1960s to the fact that Aborigines were continually discriminated against. Neither did they own their traditional tribal lands. ‘Land rights not uranium’ was the first protest action that I attended with Aboriginal activists in the 1970s. I was sorry when the Stolen Generations report came out and that is why I wore this badge. Indigenous children had suffered so much by being taken away from their families and their culture. It had been a very misguided policy.