Sea of Hands commemorates Apology anniversary

Thursday, 13 February 2014 (All day)
School children attend the Sea of Hands outside AIATSIS
School children attend the Sea of Hands outside AIATSIS.

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) created a sea of 15,000 hands this week to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the National Apology to Australia’s First Peoples.

The display, created on the grounds of AIATSIS with the assistance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Weetangera Primary School, and staff from Indigenous and government organisations around the capital, will be displayed from Thursday 13 to Friday 14 February.

Speaking at a morning tea to mark the anniversary, AIATSIS Principal Russell Taylor noted that like other great moments in our nation’s history, many people, especially members of the Stolen Generations, will easily recall where we were that day in 2008.

“Today, we’re celebrating and reflecting on that wonderful day when the nation stopped as the former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd acknowledged the past mistreatment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were taken from their families – the Stolen Generations – and finally said to them – SORRY,” Mr Taylor said. 

"It’s the Institute’s responsibility to maintain awareness across the nation of important events such as the National Apology, and in our collections we safe-keep 461 of the Sorry Books that were signed by thousands and thousands of Australians. These sorry books really do symbolize an important part of our nation acknowledging past wrongs and this collection is now inscribed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register."

“This year is our 50th Anniversary and we are proud of our achievements and milestones and the challenge for us today is to ensure we can continue preserving our globally significant collections for future generations."

The Sea of Hands was also supported by ANTaR and the ACT Indigenous Elected Body.

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Last reviewed: 17 Nov 2015