On our journey towards reconciliation, National Sorry Day on 26 May is an important moment to acknowledge and recognise the history and ongoing impact of the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from their families, communities and culture.
For Youth Off The Streets, honouring National Sorry Day helps to build deeper and more trusting relationships between our staff, young people and their communities, especially those who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
Tyson Birtles, Manager of Youth Off The Streets’ Aboriginal Services Program says sharing stories of Aboriginal cultural survival and resilience, and connecting young people with their community and culture is essential to breaking the cycle of trauma that continues to impact the Stolen Generations and their families.
Building awareness around Aboriginal culture among non-Indigenous Australians is also an essential part of the reconciliation process that can bring us together, give us a sense of belonging and help our country heal.
“This is the oldest surviving culture in the world and something we can all be proud of”, says Tyson.
“We’re trying to find those similarities between different people and cultures that make them feel connected and let them know that deep down we’re all the same. I believe that together if we can openly share and embrace one another’s cultures in an authentic way we can work toward reconciliation.”
One young person, Daniel*, felt disconnected from his community and culture before he started attending our Cultural Connections program:
“When I first came to Youth Off The Streets, I was listening to a lot of violent rap music about minority groups and I remember identifying with a lot of the lyrics that were talking about their experiences with racism and oppression. I felt a connection to this hearing someone else sharing our story of genocide but it was so negative that it just added to my feelings of shame and humiliation of my culture.
Then I started learning more about my culture and doing activities like dancing and healing practices with the team. After a while I became proud and loved having more conversations about where I’ve come from. I have a new found relationship with my culture and am still eager to learn more and to share it with others. I think that by sharing it and learning more rather than hiding from it, more kids like me can become proud of who they are and where they’re from. “
This National Sorry Day, Youth Off The Streets acknowledges members of the Stolen Generations and the significant trauma that has been passed down through the years. Our Aboriginal Services Team is committed to working hard with our communities to achieve reconciliation. This would not be possible without the funding from Future Generation Australia (ASX: FGX) who have been supporting the Aboriginal Cultural Connections Program since 2015.
Our Aboriginal services team would like everyone to pause today for a minute and reflect on those who we lost in the Stolen Generation.