Musicians, artists and Jesuit Social Services staff and volunteers have gathered to commemorate Sorry Day with a rescheduled concert at Melbourne’s Blak Dot Gallery.

Held nationally on 26 May since 1998, Sorry Day remembers the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities, which are now known as the ‘Stolen Generations’.

Jesuit Social Services marks Sorry Day each year, but rescheduled the 2021 commemoration when Melbourne entered lockdown.

The rescheduled concert featured a line-up of First Nations talent, including singer-songwriters Aaron B and Olivia Meg, violinist Maya Moo, and interviewer Aretha Brown, who spoke with broadcaster and musician Grant Hansen from the Marngrook Footy Show about the enduring significance of Sorry Day.

Grant said it’s important to respect Sorry Day as a day of mourning.

“It’s a sad day, especially for those of us who have been affected by the Stolen Generations,” he said.

“The trauma that people carry in their hearts, their bodies, and their spirits, I see that trauma in the way people act and behave. It can be pretty wild, but when you understand the circumstances, it’s horrific.”

Ultimately, Grant said, Sorry Day, and similar annual events, offers an opportunity to start a genuine process of learning and respect.

“It’s not just one day when we should be acknowledging it, whether it’s January 26, or Sorry Day, or NAIDOC Week – it’s about people learning our history and celebrating our culture. There’s sorrow, but there’s lots of great things we’ve been able to celebrate.”

Sorry Day 2021 was attended by Jesuit Social Services staff and volunteers, who said Sorry Day provided an opportunity to reflect on healing and understanding.

“Today allowed me to reflect on the true history of the land and on the role of allies in the ongoing healing process for Aboriginal people,” said policy and advocacy officer Vesela Kupenova.

“Reflecting every day, not just on Sorry Day, gives purpose to our work.”

The Sorry Day event was organised by Jesuit Social Services’ Artful Dodgers Studios, which provides music and art programs for young people facing difficult circumstances, and the Brosnan Centre, which houses justice and crime prevention programs. We’re grateful to Paulie, Rosie and their teams for their efforts to mark such an important occasion.