Stolen Generations Gathering for National Sorry Day

Coota Girls Aboriginal Corporation will host a major Stolen Generations Community Gathering to commemorate National Sorry Day.

National Sorry Day (26th May) is a day of great significance to Coota Girls Survivors, their families and descendants, and the broader Stolen Generations community. 

Each year, National Sorry Day commemorates and acknowledges the atrocities faced by First Nations children who were forcibly removed from their families and communities, and the continuing impact of forcible removal and assimilation policies on Stolen Generations Survivors, their families and whole communities.

CEO, Alicia Bairle, said, “Over 20 Coota Girls Survivors, former residents of the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls will travel from all over New South Wales and interstate to attend this significant healing event.

“This will be the largest gathering of Coota Girls Survivors in over 10 years,” she said.

“It is critical that we continue to commemorate the horrifying legacy of the forcible removal of First Nations children, and to show strong public support for the implementation of recommendations made in the Bringing them Home report.”

Coota Girls Aboriginal Corporation is partnering with a wide range of First Nations organisations to provide cultural immersion experiences including dance, live music, art, weaving, eco-dying, plant knowledge, traditional games and more.

The Coota Girls Survivors, descendants and broader public will be entertained by NSW South Coast choir Djinama Yilaga, some members of which are themselves descended from Coota Girls Survivors.

Reconciliation Australia Chief Executive Officer, Karen Mundine will introduce the choir as part of the National Reconciliation Week Be a Voice for Generations choir event which will see more than 500 choirs across Australia perform the iconic song From Little Things Big Things Grow.

She said it was a privilege to be part of the Coota Girls commemoration as the first event she attends in National Reconciliation Week (NRW)

“Every Aboriginal person in NSW has heard the horror stories of the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls (1912-1969) or is related to a Survivor of that place, and so it is very special that at the start of NRW I am here,” she said.

“This week is a time for Australians to learn about our shared histories, including the stories Coota Girls Survivors and all the other members of the Stolen Generations. NRW brings us together to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia and make sure that First Nations children are no longer forcibly removed from family and community.”

For more information:

Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls (1912-1969)

National Reconciliation Week 2023 

Artwork by Sarah Levett Art 

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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