Bourke community embraces Sorry project

Bourke High School students took their learning into the community when they asked people what Sorry Day, commemorated today, means to them.

26 May 2021
Three people stand looking at the words sorry day made from hands in the ground.
Image: Deep meaning: The Sorry Day artwork created by students at Bourke High School.

Sorry is not a word taken lightly in Bourke. That is what the high school students discovered when they interviewed local people as part of a project marking National Sorry Day.

The Bourke High School students, who were all members of the school’s STEM Club, took their cameras into the town and interviewed community members about what National Sorry Day meant to them.

The students completed the interviews yesterday and then edited the video overnight to be played to each year group to mark Sorry Day.

Community members spoke about their own family's experiences of the Stolen Generation, watching then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd deliver the national apology in Parliament in 2008 and the importance of the day as a way of remembering community elders and tradition.

Among those interviewed for the project was school principal Robert Bourke.

Mr Bourke said National Sorry Day was one of the most important days of the year for the school.

“We need to stop and have everyone focus and think about why it is called Sorry Day and the impact [the Stolen Generations] has had on so many people.

“It’s something the whole community needs to understand [but] as a Connected Communities school it is essential we learn from the errors of the past so we can move forward - but not forget what happened in the past - towards a better future.”

The video produced by Bourke High School's STEM Club.


Bourke High School instructional leader Trudy Rodwell said the students were very nervous about interviewing community members, but were surprised by the way people opened up.

Ms Rodwell said after viewing the interviews the students were asked to write on a paper hand what Sorry Day also meant to them.

These hands were then taken out on to the school oval and curated to form the words Sorry Day.

Ms Rodwell said marking the day and talking about its meaning was very important for the students.

“The day has a very deep meaning for them and they are very connected to it and to ensuring it doesn’t happen again,” she said.

National Sorry Day remembers and acknowledges the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities, which we now know as ‘The Stolen Generations’.

The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998, one year after the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament.

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