National Sorry Day acknowledges and raises awareness of the history and continued effect of the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from their families, communities and culture. Every year on 26th May, this day remembers the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people forcibly removed from their families and communities, which we now know as ‘The Stolen Generations’. National Sorry Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the strength of Stolen Generations Survivors and reflect on how we can all play a part in the healing process for our people and nation.

While this date carries great significance for the Stolen Generations and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it is also commemorated by Australians right around the country. The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998, one year after the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament. This report was a result of a Government Inquiry into the past policies which caused children to be removed from their families and communities in the 20th century.

In 2000, there was one issue high on the agenda at the Sydney Harbour Bridge walk for reconciliation, an apology to the Stolen Generations. It was also high in the sky, when a group of people had the word ‘sorry’ written in the clear blue skies above the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Such was the intensity of feeling and support for Stolen Generations members, many of whom were among the huge crowd that day.


We have several books about the Stolen Generations in our catalogue:

Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence (B1756) by Doris Pilkington & Nugi Garimara

The true account of Doris Pilkington’s mother Molly, a stolen child, who as a young girl led her two sisters on an extraordinary 1,600 kilometre walk home.

The Stolen Children (B1589) ed. Carmel Bird

Carmel has edited these stories and has also written linking text with a range of comments from politicians, social commentators, actors, artists and other prominent people.

Shadow Child (B1730) by Rosalie Fraser

Rosalie Fraser’s childhood experiences of separation from her parents while a State Ward in Western Australia.

The White Girl (B2333) by Tony Birch

Raising a granddaughter, Odette has managed to avoid welfare authorities removing Aboriginal children from their communities. But she must make an impossible choice to protect her family.

Shadow Lines (B1842) by Stephen Kinnane

A girl, born in the remote East Kimberley, taken from her Aboriginal family at age five, and a young Englishman escaping the rigid structures of London, who fall in love and marry.

And here is a selection of other books about the Stolen Generations:

Who am I? by Anita Heiss

Mary was taken to an Aboriginal Children’s Home at five years old. Now she’s ten, living with a white family in Sydney. She doesn’t fit in and starts to question why.

The Burnt Stick by Anthony Hill

John grew up at a Mission for Aboriginal children in the far north-west. This is a tale for everyone about the pain of separation, and the strength of the human spirit.

They Took the Children by David Hollinsworth

The story of the stolen generations: families and communities fractured and torn apart. Many of the stolen children and in some cases their children and grandchildren still search for their relatives, suffering the effects of separation and fragmentation.

Lowitja by Stuart Rintoul

In search of a past she did not remember, Lowitja went back to Central Australia accompanied by journalist Stuart Rintoul. This ground-breaking and long-awaited biography completes that journey into Lowitja’s life and the challenging history of her times.

Stolen by Jane Harrison

Five Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their parents, brought up in a children’s home and trained for domestic service and other menial jobs. Segregated from society, not all of them successfully manage when released into the outside world.

Back on the Block: Bill Simon’s Story by Bill Simon, Des Montgomerie and Jo Tuscano

Stolen child Bill Simon tells of his life in one of Australia’s most terrible juvenile institutions, where thousands of boys were warehoused and abused.

The Stolen Generations by Peter Read

First published in 1981, Professor Peter Read’s report on the removal of Aboriginal children in New South Wales 1883 to 1969.


Do you know of some other noteworthy books on the stolen generations or other tales of hardship suffered by the First People of Australia?