More than a dozen native hibiscus trees are making their roots comfortable in a garden west of the Tim Winton Lecture Theatre, Bentley Campus. Planted at a ceremony to mark National Sorry Day on 26 May, the attractive species was chosen for its symbolism more than its beauty.
Noongar Elder in Residence Associate Professor Simon Forrest says Stolen Generation groups officially chose the tree’s mauve flower in 2011 to represent the resilience of those who were removed from their families.
“The mauve colour of the flower represents healing and compassion,” Associate Professor Forrest says. “As a hardy plant that grows all around Australia, the hibiscus is a very apt emblem for showing respect and support for the Stolen Generation.”
It is the first time the species has been planted at Curtin as part of National Sorry Day.
“The garden, especially when it flowers, will be a place where people can go and reflect on the meaning of reconciliation,” Associate Professor Forrest explains.
Together, Associate Professor Forrest and Curtin Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry led the Sorry Day ceremony, which was attended by more than 130 staff and students.
Individuals in the audience and members of Curtin’s Senior Executive Team joined in the tree planting, including Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies Professor Marion Kickett and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Education Professor Jill Downie.
“Sorry Day is an important step towards reconciliation in Australia,” says Associate Professor Forrest. “The ceremony and tree planting are one strategy that Curtin has in place as part of its Reconciliation Action Plan, which aims to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians and in turn, all Australians.”
National Sorry Day
National Sorry Day is an annual event acknowledging historical mistreatment of Indigenous people in Australia. It takes place on the date the Bringing Them Home report was presented to parliament in 1997. The referendum that gave Aboriginal people the right to vote was held on 27 May 1967.