Sunday, 26 May 2024

National Sorry Day gathering following the Blackwood Reconciliation Walk

Rod and I are honoured to join you today on National Sorry Day.

I thank the Blackwood Reconciliation Group for hosting this event, as well as this morning’s Walk.

As Governor, it is my privilege to walk with indigenous and non-indigenous South Australians.

It is a privilege but against the backdrop of our State’s foundational documents - the Letters Patent, the South Australia Act 1838, and the Proclamation itself – I feel a responsibility as holder of the State’s highest office, to do so.

Today is an important opportunity formally to acknowledge the Stolen Generations and the impact the practices that led to them have had, and continue to have, on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

As a society, we are still coming to understand concepts like complex and intergenerational trauma, the devastation such trauma creates and the lasting impact it has on individuals, families, and future generations, even though, as individuals, we know that the effects of the Stolen Generations were, and are still, deeply felt by Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples.

We have heard this movingly in this afternoon’s reflections.

Here at Colebrook Reconciliation Park, the site of the former Colebrook Home, we see it depicted in the form of the Weeping Mother and the Fountain of Tears.

Here, on the land where the stolen children came to live, we are shown the impact of government policies on the families who were left behind.

We see, literally, their pain set in stone – the mother’s lap forever empty of her child; the families’ faces forever drenched in tears.

This moving memorial, together with three listening posts, is also a source of education for hundreds of members of the public, including school children, who visit every year.

In 2024, we mark a century since the first removals of First Nations children from Oodnadatta and the subsequent establishment of the Colebrook Training Home.

Rod and I had the privilege recently of meeting with former Colebrook residents and their descendants. We were deeply moved by the generosity of spirit they manifested in sharing their stories, their strength, and their wisdom.

I learned from residents and descendants, as I have from First Nations people on other occasions, about the importance of indigenous people having opportunities for truth telling, and for non‑indigenous people to respond with deep listening.

These – truth‑telling and deep listening - are foundations for healing.


The theme of this year’s Reconciliation Week is ‘Now More than Ever’. I am heartened by the many examples I have seen of what is possible when we commit to genuine engagement, inclusion, learning and relationship building.

The theme speaks to the sense of urgency many feel in needing and wanting to address the many practical disadvantages still faced by so many of our First Nations people.

I thank, with deep sincerity, organisations like the Blackwood Reconciliation Group, one of the longest running such groups in Australia, for bringing indigenous and non-indigenous people together at the individual and community level, as they have today.

I also thank the Healing Foundation and City of Mitcham for their support of this event, as well as all of you, for coming here, for showing your sincerity and opening your hearts.

I look forward to working with you as we, in Raymond Finn’s words, listen, develop our relationships, and transform.

Coming events