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Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

7 — Why say sorry?

In this sequence students investigate what led up to the national Apology to the Stolen Generations. They will attempt to answer the big questions they asked when framing their historical inquiry in Sequence 1.

Activity 1: Reviewing information about the Stolen Generations

Review the information recorded in Sequence 1 about the Stolen Generations and re-read the questions. Read the list of questions in Reconciliation Australia’s Fact sheet: Apology to the Stolen Generations. Are there common questions in the two lists? That is, the lists of questions students have compiled and those asked in the fact sheet.

Read the information provided in the fact sheet and compare it with the information recorded by the students. Highlight any contradictory items and discuss how these can be reconciled, for example, by examining primary source materials such as police records and letters.  ACHASSI123

Activity 2: Looking at testimonies from the Stolen Generations

You should preview video clips and transcripts of the testimonies of members of the Stolen Generations and provide a selection for students to use. The sensitivities of community members should be kept in mind. In some instances it would be appropriate to include testimonies of local people but at other times it could cause distress. Where possible, check with your local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community.

Explain that testimonies of members of the Stolen Generations were recorded as evidence in the 1997 Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, the Bringing Them Home Report. 

Groups view the video clips or read transcripts of one Stolen Generations Testimony and summarise the main points. After all of the groups have presented what they have found out to the rest of the students, discuss the common features of the testimonies. Talk about how testimonies can build a body of evidence. 

Groups of students create a short presentation in the form of a factual recount to share with the class. Discuss the more formal language required in a factual recount in contrast to the informal language of a personal testimony. Select a few of these to be used in the museum.  ACELA1517ACELY1711

Activity 3: Creating illustrations for the song

Read the foreword to the picture book Took the Children Away by Archie Roach and illustrated by Ruby Hunter, with paintings by Peter Hudson (2010). Compare Archie Roach’s story with other stories from the Stolen Generations.  ACELY1711

Follow the advice of Martin Flanagan, who wrote the foreword to the book, and listen to the song while reading the book. Students record the rhyming pattern of the song and note instances where rhymes are not exact. For example, ‘policeman’ and ‘understand’. Discuss the way these words might be sung to fit in with the rhyming pattern.

Re-read the book and pay close attention to the way Ruby Hunter has illustrated the main part of the text. Discuss the techniques she has used, such as dark, muted tones to symbolise sorrow. Contrast this with the choice of paintings by Peter Hudson used to illustrate the part of the song when ‘the children came back’. Talk about the way these paintings symbolise country, family and the individuals removed from their families.

Students each take a rhyming couplet from the part of the story illustrated by Ruby Hunter and illustrate it in any way they choose (for example, painting, crayon drawing or photographs). Groups of students illustrate the remaining pages.  ACELY1714 

Have the students sequence their illustrations and combine them into a coherent narrative as a mural for the wall of the museum. 

Activity 4: Making a poster to advertise an event

The opening of the class museum would ideally coincide with a commemorative occasion such as Sorry Day, NAIDOC Week or Reconciliation Week. If that is the case, a reference to the museum should be included in the poster created in this activity.

Students will have opportunities to view a variety of posters, including some in digital form. Posters may be found in the school or local community, advertising events or goods for sale. Advertising sections in newspapers, including movie and event advertising, are other useful sources of examples. Students may also search online to find different posters; see the Glogpedia library in the Glogster Edu website. Look at the different ways that ideas and events are represented differently and the effects they have on the viewer. For example, the juxtaposition of images from different time periods may represent change.  ACELY1708

Students will create a poster or newspaper advertisement to advertise Sorry Day, NAIDOC Week or Reconciliation Week at their school or in their local community. They may make a paper poster, a digital one using Web 2.0 tools such as Glogster EDU or a newspaper advertisement for the school or local newspaper. Students should consider important messages they wish to convey.  ACELY1714