By | 25 May 2023 at 2:39 PM
National Sorry Day 2023: Date, History, Facts about Indigenous Australians

National Sorry Day is observed annually on May 26 in Australia to commemorate the maltreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by colonists. Why? Indigenous children were removed from their families and “assimilated” into European Australian culture during the 20th century. They are commonly referred to as the “Stolen Generations.” Several Australian government administrations came and went before an official apology was offered to the Indigenous Australians, but it was eventually made, and efforts are still ongoing to repair the harm caused by separating native families.

The background of National Sorry Day

The first National Sorry Day was observed in 1998, a year after the first “Bringing Them Home” report was presented to the Australian Parliament. This report was the result of a government investigation into the child abductions of the 20th century. This report’s recommendations included the concept of an unconditional apology and the suggestion that a portion of the national budget be allocated to reparations.

In 2008, when Kevin Rudd was president, an official apology was issued. In 1999, the best that former Prime Minister John Howard could muster was a “Motion of Reconciliation” that expressed regret and sympathy but made no admission of fault. In the interim, a 2005 motion to rename the day “The National Day of Healing” was approved.

Australians’ souls were truly moved by Prime Minister Rudd’s unqualified apology. His parliament adopted the “Closing the Gap” movement’s objectives, which centred on the health and equality of indigenous peoples of all ages. Closing the Gap was administered by Oxfam Australia from 2009 to 2019, after which it was transferred to Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR), who continue to publish an annual report.

National Sorry Day is a day to recognise the resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors and consider how all Australians can contribute to the rehabilitation of the nation. This date holds significant significance for the Stolen Generations and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but it is also commemorated by all Australians.

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It is believed that Australian Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders left Africa over 70,000 years ago, making them one of the world’s earliest continuous civilizations.

It is estimated that hundreds of Indigenous nations speaking 250 languages and 600 dialects inhabited Australia before European settlers arrived in 1788.

“The Dreamtime” — incorporating the past, present, and future — is an umbrella term for the intricate network of Aboriginal spiritual beliefs regarding the creation of all aspects of nature and the human responsibility to care for it.

Some Torres Strait Islanders practise “customary” adoption, in which childless couples are given a boy or a girl from another family so that they do not lose out on the pleasure of raising a child.

The majority of the more than 400 words from Aboriginal languages that comprise Australian English are nouns. Some of these words include koala, wombat, barramundi, kookaburra, boomerang, yakka and bung.


Year Date Day
2023 May 26 Friday
2024 May 26 Sunday
2025 May 26 Monday
2026 May 26 Tuesday
2027 May 26 Wednesday