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National Sorry Day about learning from the past: AASW

Published: 26 May 2017

National Sorry Day is an important day for Australians to reflect upon the devastating impacts that government policies have had on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and make a commitment to change, says Australian Association of Social Workers National President, Professor Karen Healy AM.

“For social workers, Sorry Day is about acknowledging the strength and resilience of Indigenous Australians and considering how far we still need to go to address the consequences of the Stolen Generation,” said Professor Healy.

“It’s an opportunity for us and for our community to make a stronger commitment to address the structural and cultural inequalities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Despite the progress made by the 1967 referendum and the 1997 Bringing Them Home report, Professor Healy says there are still poorer outcomes for Indigenous Australians, including the overrepresentation of adults in jails and children being removed from their families.

“Consecutive governments have failed to fully implement the recommendations from the Bringing Them Home report, and therefore failing to provide meaningful and lasting change,” she said.

“It’s time for federal, state and territory governments to act by providing consistent policies and funding. Politicians need to start listening and working with Indigenous communities with a focus on self-determination and building respectful relationships.”

Professor Healy says the latest Closing the Gap report, in which only one of seven targets has been met, is an illustration of what happens when governments develop policies without the involvement of Indigenous groups.”

“A new approach is needed if we are to achieve reconciliation and justice for Indigenous peoples,” Professor Healy said.

The Australian Association of Social Workers represents 10,000 professional social workers across the country.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers