• Indigenous children have had positive and negative experiences in out-of-home care. Here, some celebrate the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. (Getty Images)
This year's National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s day is expected to take a more political tone in line with the 20 year anniversary of the Bringing Them Home Report.
By
Natalie Cromb

4 Aug 2017 - 2:49 PM  UPDATED 4 Aug 2017 - 2:49 PM

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s day is a community driven day introduced by SNAICC in 1988 originally a community driven political movement driven by the necessity of exclusion following the catastrophic effects of colonisation and child removal policies which lead to children not knowing their identity, their birthday or that there was a community that cared for their future. The critical work of grassroots movements elevated this issue to the national agenda and since 1988 it has been the national day to celebrate Indigenous children.

In essence, it is the day to celebrate and promote the contributions and culture of Indigenous children, who they are, where they come from and where they’re headed.

The campaign is expected to have a more political tone this year in light of the increasing child removals and the link to the Bringing them Home Report

SNAICC Chairperson Sharon Williams stated in a Media Release,

“I think SNAICC exists so that one day we can live in a society in which our children are genuinely valued, by all Australians, for their cultural identity and their connection to our lands and waters.

One way in which we aim to achieve this is by fostering mature, respectful conversations. Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, non-Indigenous – we are all people. If we want to create a better world for our children we must do so by acknowledging and celebrating our differences.”

We know now that the rate of child removals has increased by 65 percent since the National Apology delivered by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

This year is the 29th year of celebrating Children’s Day and while it is now seen as a day to celebrate our children and show them that they are included, valued and special it is also an important day to draw the mainstream community’s attention to the unique set of challenges faced by Indigenous children.

Indigenous children continue to have literacy rates far below their non-Indigenous peers, continue to suffer medical conditions, injuries and hospitalisations at higher rates than their non-Indigenous peers and continue to be removed from their families at increasing rates.

The theme for Children’s Day in 2017 is Value Our Rights, Respect Our Culture, Bring Us Home, recognising the 20-year anniversary of the Bringing them Home report.

As well as championing the many benefits children experience when they are raised with strong connections to family and culture, the theme examines child and family welfare systems 20 years on from the Bringing them Home report. We know now that the rate of child removals has increased by 65 percent since the National Apology delivered by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to represent 35 percent of children in out of home care despite only representing 5.5 percent of the overall population.

It is clear that the policies affecting Indigenous children need to be put under a microscope and examined. Ms Williams states:

“While the Bringing them Home report has a very significant place in history, the reality is that things have not improved over the last 20 years.

More children are being removed from their families by child protection authorities than ever before. While the report came with many recommendations to address this issue only a handful have been fully implemented.

Solutions lie within community. The Family Matters campaign is a roadmap to addressing the over-representation of our children in out-of-home care. With the support and faith of Government we can create a system that works for our children and families.”

The campaign is expected to have a more political tone this year in light of the increasing child removals and the link to the Bringing them Home Report, particularly given that we have seen an additional increase in the rate of youth suicide and inquiry into juvenile detention.

This year’s official event will be held at Scienceworks in Melbourne on Monday 7 August, and will be launched by Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People Andrew Jackomos.