Berry Street Revised Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities
Berry Street acknowledges the pain, loss, indignity, dispossession and degradation that European Invasion inflicted on the Traditional Custodians of the land, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This includes massacres, slavery, attempts of genocide, loss of traditional countries, cultures, denial of identity, destruction to family and kinship systems and the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families.
Since its establishment, Berry Street was complicit in the ‘1869 Aborigines Protection Act’ that forcibly removed Aboriginal children from their families, communities, countries and cultures. This act, along with others across Australia, sanctioned the large-scale removal and deliberate placement of Aboriginal children to non-Aboriginal families, missions, reserves, orphanages and children’s homes. We understand that the reason for removal was race based and the goal was to assimilate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. We recognise the physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse inflicted on many children who were forcibly removed. We acknowledge their pain, resilience and survival.
Berry Street sincerely regrets failing to oppose these racist policies and apologises for our part in this. We apologise for the devastating consequences these policies inflicted upon Aboriginal people across multiple generations. Today, and every day forward, we recognise the great strength, resilience and resistance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Berry Street is committed to learning from our mistakes. We recognise that connection to traditional cultures, countries and communities instils pride, sense of self, belonging, and healing for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Berry Street is committed to self-determination. We will continue to work alongside Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations recognising that they are best placed to determine outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and will act accordingly.
We promise to respect, value and actively listen to the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Berry Street is deeply committed to reconciliation. We recognise that the truth must be told, the truth must be heard, and that the truth must never be forgotten.
Dr Jo Flynn AM
1. See Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). Bringing Them Home – Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their Families. Commonwealth of Australia 1997. Available www.humanrights.gov.au
2. Note: The UN Convention on Genocide agreed in 1948 defined genocide as the intent to destroy in whole or part a national, racial, ethnic or other group including by transferring the children of the group to another group.
Original Apology 2006
Revised Apology in 2016 and 2021