Acknowledging Stolen Generations’ grief and suffering

Cobar Health Service staff, Cobar Health Council and Cobar Local Aboriginal Land Council members at the plaque dedication service on Friday morning.

An apology plaque inscribed with a sorry message to the Stolen Generations was unveiled at the Cobar Health Service on Friday morning.

Cobar Health Service Manager Mary Urquhart welcomed members of the Cobar Local Aboriginal Land Council, Cobar Health Council, Cobar Hospital Auxiliary and Cobar Health Service staff to the dedication service.

“In 2022, the Secretary for NSW Health, Susan Pearce, made a formal apology on behalf of the NSW Health system to survivors of the Stolen Generations and acknowledged that many Aboriginal children admitted to hospitals never returned to their families and communities,” Mrs Urquhart said.

“At the time of the NSW Health Apology, more than 30,700 Aboriginal people lived in our Local Health District, from numerous Nations across our own large geographical footprint, and beyond.

“For so many, the damage and hurt caused through the Stolen Generations continues to affect not only their health and wellbeing, but also their ability to trust that places of healthcare are also places of safety.

“We sincerely apologise for the role NSW Health had in the forced removal of Aboriginal children from our hospitals and institutions,” Mrs Urquhart said.

“We acknowledge the inconceivable pain and suffering experienced by those from the Stolen Generations themselves, and by the generations that came after whose families and communities are still impacted today.

“Our health services should be places of comfort and healing, where all people feel safe, respected, and cared for.

“We will continue to advance our efforts in improving meaningful health outcomes for all Aboriginal people,” Mrs Urquhart said.

Cobar Health Council deputy chair Colby Lawrence said the pain and suffering that people experienced through the forceable removal of people from their families, their homes, their country, their culture and their identity could not be comprehended.

“I acknowledge the trauma of having to conform to be someone who they weren’t and the experience of having to rediscover who they were, later in life,” Mr Lawrence said.

“A lot of the time, in Aboriginal Culture when significant events happen, we create stories through song or through art and when you look at the amount of painting, sculptures, songs and stories there are about the Stolen Generations and, when you actually listen to the words or pay attention to the message, you will hear the pain and grief and impact that the Stolen Generations had on First Nations people.

“A pain, a grief that is still felt by many people today. I hope that one day, we will be able to leave that pain, in the past, although, I believe that we can only achieve this, through true reconciliation,” Mr Lawrence said.

All sites across the Local Health District will be installing sorry plaques.