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Shoalhaven National Sorry Day Event - Reconciliation Bridge Walk

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Aboriginal woman in black clothing holds a microphone as she stands on grass. In the background is a large tree, a shed, a sign, a speaker on a stand and some didgeridoos laying on the grass.
Reconciliation Bridge Walk organiser Sharlene Cruickshank
30 May 2019

On Friday 24 May 2019, hundreds of residents of Nowra in NSW gathered and participated in the National Sorry Day Reconciliation Bridge Walk.

It is a historically appropriate place for a Sorry Day event as the Apology to the Stolen Generations has its origins in the Shoalhaven Region of NSW.

Members of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities as well as representatives from local schools, government and non-government organisations joined together in the 3 kilometre walk.

It began at Moorehouse Park and ended at Bomaderry Homes, the place where many Aboriginal children were housed after removal from their families.

The walkers enjoyed beautiful weather throughout the whole event which comprised opening and closing ceremonies as well as the walk itself.

Sharlene Cruickhank from South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation emceed the event and did an outstanding job organising it. This was her fifth Reconciliation Bridge Walk.

Six Aboriginal adults in casual clothing stand on grass. Some hold the Aboriginal flag. In the background are trees.
Participants in the walk included staff from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

In her speech, Sharlene spoke about the origins of the Sorry Day Walk.

‘I wondered how we could do something as a community to commemorate Sorry Day,’ Sharlene said.

‘So one day I went to my boss and said I wanted to do something. “I want to organise a community event and walk over the Nowra Bridge”. My boss replied, “Well, go do it”. Now we are in our fifth year and this event gets bigger each year.’

There were a number of guests at the closing ceremony who gave well received and respectful speeches. They included Uncle Willy Dixon and Aunty Christine Blakely, members of the Stolen Generation who were residents of Bomaderry Children’s Home.

The Shoalhaven City Mayor Amanda Finley also spoke, and provided inspiring views on reconciliation and commitment to improving lives for Indigenous people in the Shoalhaven. Her speech included an emotional and inspirational story from Janaya Hennessy who is an Aboriginal Cadet for Shoalhaven City Council working in the Community Development sector.

The event included entertainment from local performers, storytelling and lunch.

Congratulations must be given to the  South Coast Medical Aboriginal Corporation who, as always, did an amazing job in organising the event,

It is expected that future National Sorry Day Reconciliation Bridge Walks will continue to grow in numbers and support over the years to come. The Sorry Day walks held annually around the nation are an increasingly important part of Reconciliation Week.

Find out more

For more information, see Reconciliation Australia.

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