This National Sorry Day (26 May), the peak body for First Nations Children and families honours Stolen Generations survivors and their families by reaffirming their commitment to keeping our kids connected to family, country, and culture.

National Sorry Day marks the anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report – the result of a national inquiry that investigated the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families.

25 years on, the report continues to guide the work of countless survivors, families, advocates, and organisations. However, implementation of many of the report’s numerous recommendations remain outstanding.

SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, CEO Catherine Liddle said it was an important day to reflect on the continuing unacceptably high rates of children being removed from their families and the ongoing trauma inflicted by these practices.

The 2021 Family Matters report found a staggering 21,523 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were in out-of-home care as of 30 June 2020.

Governments have committed to reducing the over-representation of First Nations children in out-of-home care by 45% by 2031 through the National Agreement on Closing the Gap – yet according to the report, representation is expected to increase by 54% by 2030.

“More and more of our children are being removed from their families with the over-representation of our children in out-of-home care growing each year,” the Arrernte/Luritja woman said.

“Our children are being taken from families that love them, being disconnected from culture and too often ending up in the justice system.

“After 25 years we are still struggling to get governments to change their approaches, to recognise that underlying systems are stacked against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

“But this National Sorry Day I have hope that we are starting to see change, that we have commitments that will see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and knowledge drive the systems that support our kids’ safety and wellbeing.” Ms Liddle said

Federal, State and Territory Government commitments to the Closing the Gap agreement, the promise of the Uluru Statement, and moves towards real partnerships in decision making were significant.

“These are far from symbolic gestures. They can represent a deeper shift in attitude and practice by governments that actually drive system changes that can turn the tide,” Ms Liddle said.

“Governments have made commitments to invest more in our community-controlled approaches, and to transfer authority in child protection to our communities and organisations, but the pace of change remains too slow. It’s time to genuinely put these commitments into action.

“SNAICC will continue to work to hold governments to account, to make sure the voices of our children are heard when decisions are being made that impact their lives, their families, communities and culture.”

Catherine Liddle