Aboriginal people of the Stolen Generations gathered with the community to commemorate the 11th Anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations at Preston Shire Hall on Wednesday 13 February.
The event was filled with personal and moving reflections on the pain, suffering and lifelong search for family, home and country that members of the Stolen Generations face.
Connecting Home Chairperson Ian Hamm spoke of the struggle this brings for him and other members of the Stolen Generations.
“It’s a journey that will not stop until the day you die,” Mr Hamm told the gathering.
“It just keeps going. It gets better, it gets worse.”
He also reflected on the Anniversary as a chance to remember the special bond members of the Stolen Generations share, and on the healing the Apology brought to so many members of the Aboriginal community and to the nation.
“It reminds me of the best of humanity, when Kevin Rudd said 'Sorry'. That day brought out the best of us.”
VACCA Deputy Chairperson Jason King said it was also a call to action to keep working for truth, justice and reconciliation.
“To understand why it happened and how it’s not going to happen in the future. And about making sure the impacts today are recognised.”
Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said Council recognised the need to address past wrongs in the spirit of recognition, respect, justice and reconciliation.
"This is why, four years ago on 26 May 2015, Council launched the Stolen Generations Marker in front of our municipal offices, sharing this important chapter of Australian history with Darebin residents.
"To the Stolen Generation Elders and your families here this morning, our Council wishes to express how privileged and humbled we feel to be hosting such an important gathering.
"We recognise the need to address past wrongs, to allow for healing and hope through truth telling and to work together in helping build a fair future for all."
About 200 people filled the Preston Shire Hall to attend the commemoration, which was organised by Link-Up Victoria, VACCA, Connecting Home and Darebin Council. The gathering received a heartfelt Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony from Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Elder Aunty Di Kerr OAM and a didgeridoo performance from Stolen Generations member Andrew Travis.
Following closing reflections from Stolen Generations members, MC Eva Jo Edwards and singer-songwriter Brian Morley, the crowd made their way to the commemoration marker, the 'empty coolamon', outside Council offices on High Street, to each place a flower there, along with candles, to reflect and honour Stolen Generations members.
Read more about Aboriginal Victoria.