National Sorry Day 2015

Before I start, I would like to commend the member for Grayndler on his incredibly powerful speech that he delivered just now on marriage equality. I particularly commend him for his discussion on his reasons on why he supports a conscience vote. I share his views on the conscience vote and I commend him for that speech. It is unfortunate that the member for McMillan has gone because I would like to commend him as well for his continued sustained stance on family violence. I have only been in this place for one and a half terms, but every time I come to this chamber he seems to be making a speech on family violence, condemning those that engage in it and advocating zero tolerance. I do commend the member for McMillan for once again taking a strong stance on this issue.

I rise today to recognise National Sorry Day. In doing so, I wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, the Ngunawal people. I also wish to acknowledge and pay my respects to their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city, of this region and to my electorate. The 26th of May is a significant day for Australia. It marks the day when we as a country recognise the wrongs that have been committed on our Indigenous people. It came about in response to the Bringing Them Home report, which detailed what occurred to the Stolen Generation and acknowledged the forced separation of Indigenous children from their families.

Today it is about so much more than just admitting fault. National Sorry Day is about sending a powerful message that we care about and recognise the hurt that has been caused. It is about remembering our past so that we can achieve a brighter future. Even though National Sorry Day was first marked in 1998, it has never been so important to recognise the day and its significance as it is now, and my electorate agrees. Last Friday, more than 1,500 people took part in the National Sorry Day bridge walk here in Canberra. It was the biggest local turnout in the event's history. Just five years ago only 12 people took part in the event, so it was amazing to see how it has grown in such a short amount of time. Even children were taking part.

I believe it is important that young children understand and recognise National Sorry Day and also National Reconciliation Week, which starts tomorrow. The week is about bringing together Indigenous and nonIndigenous people to share our stories and, most importantly, to understand each other. It is about recognising that Indigenous disadvantage remains a serious problem right across this country. It is about recognising the need to close the gap. It is about recognising the need to properly fund great organisations like Winnunga in my electorate. I have been very fortunate to visit Winnunga on a number of occasions and it has played a pivotal role in enhancing Indigenous health in Canberra and in the region.

National Sorry Day is incredibly important and I believe so many Canberrans— (Time expired)

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