is sorry

It started with the Welcome to Country where Noongar elders and artists were to welcome audiences and artists to the Perth International Arts Festival.

Prior to the event I spent a frustrating day attempting to research end of journey information for bicycle riders to Perth Festival events, which I narrowed down to just Perth after I was not getting anywhere. In the end, we decided to head off a little earlier to see what we could find.

We had no idea of where the event was to occur, so we headed for the Australian flag pole between the freeway and the river. This was a good spot as we could see the speakers, dancers, and drama on the river.

Under the ‘supervision’ of an interested tourist we ended up locking our bikes together against a panel of temporary fencing. There were lots of other bikes locked together, round signage and light poles, and fencing panels like ours.

The Welcome to Country was a dignified start to the Perth Festival and conducted in very extenuous circumstances. The wind gusted and howled through the space. Fortunately, the sound was good and the performers gallantly presented a vocal, musical and dance on the river edge in addition to the formal Welcome to Country.

The performance involved huge props including wire curving (and very flexible) swan necks that were difficult to maneuver in the wind. The lighting and burning of the prop in the river involved a man standing with a torch on a platform and being pushed by swimmers to the fixture (it looked like a hand holding a torch of fire) to be lit. The wind blew a lot of the smoke and soot towards the shore.

Just before the end of Welcome to Country there was an influx of people to the audience. H explained that they had come for the Water Fools performance by Ilotopie. However, the festival director announced that it was not safe for the performance to proceed due to the wind and that it may be performed the next evening and on Sunday night as scheduled. We were not bothered so much, as went for the Welcome to Country, so probably would not return to the Swan River the following night for the French troupe’s performance.

On unpacking my bike stuff when I got home I unearthed a flyer that I was handed when waiting for the Welcome to Country to commence. It was advertising the National Apology event at the Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre (6:30am-12pm) hosted by the Bringing Them Home Committee.

I went searching for further information about the issue, day and the Perth event as the flyer did not include a phone number or web address. And as the flyer highlighted, Western Australians are going to have to get up early that day if they wish to participate in the day or watch the Prime Minister’s Speech live. Note: All the resources I found refer to Canberra time.

The most succinct online resource about the Apology to the Stolen Generations of Australia I found on the ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) site, followed by Reconciliation Australia. The difficulty I have with a lot of the online resources is that they did not appear to be well maintained, although I could see the resources were started with a lot of hope and then ran out of puff. I have a copy of the Bringing them home – Community Guide, and following this up on the web I read that last year a 10 year anniversary was recognised since the Bringing them home: The ‘Stolen Children’ report (1997) report was published.

One of the quirky resources that I found in relation to Sorry: The National Apology was this YouTube video.

Other resources I found interesting:

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