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National Aboriginal Children’s Day

National Aboriginal Children’s Day 

National Aboriginal Children’s Day has been held annually on the 4th of August since 1988. It is a day  that is dedicated to Aboriginal children. It is a day that Aboriginal families and communities can  celebrate their strengths and culture with our children. For all Australians, it is a chance to show support for Aboriginal children as well as develop understanding, compassion, and empathy about the importance of culture, family, community and a sense of belonging in the everyday life of  Aboriginal kids. 

The theme for National Aboriginal Children’s Day in 2021 is Proud in culture, strong in spirit. 

Aboriginal children have the right to experience, and be proud of their history, culture, and Identity. Why is this day just as important as Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week? 

Let’s start with the 4th of August. Historically the 4th of August was used to celebrate the birthdays of  Aboriginal children taken from their families at a young age and brought up on Church missions and  Government run reservations. The 4th August was assigned to the children whose birthdays were not  known. These children are known as the Stolen Generations.  

When we look at this date and we celebrate our Aboriginal children we also need to reflect and  acknowledge why this is such a significant date. It was a date identified for children who had lost  everything – family, language, culture, and identity, stolen from them, things that should never have been stolen from them in the first place.  

When you think about the fact that a common date of birth needed to be given to Aboriginal  children after being stolen, it is kind of heartbreaking. 

The problem today is that many of our Aboriginal children are still struggling to face the ongoing  challenges and issues stemming from colonisation and its rippling effects. This includes  discrimination, poverty, systemic removal of Aboriginal children, systemic racism, intergenerational  trauma, dislocation from land and culture, and the disempowerment of Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal children are 2.5 times more likely to have delays in development and be vulnerable early  in life than non-Aboriginal children, and only half as likely to access early childcare and other  schooling services.  

Twenty-four years after the Bringing Them Home report the legacy of child removal continues for  our people. Aboriginal children are removed and living away from home at an alarming 11 times the  rate of non-Aboriginal children. 

In remote communities’ Aboriginal children lack basic opportunities like health and education. Our  government is so pre-occupied with mining and resource development that is destructive to our land  and culture, that they fail to adequately address the issues faced by these Aboriginal communities, especially the children. It is deeply concerning.  

High School completion rates for Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Children in 2006 were 31% and 76%  respectively. In 2016 this changed to 22% and 75% respectively. Tertiary Qualifications achieved were 3% and 18% respectively. (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 

To achieve real equality, we need to tackle these challenges with a holistic approach, rather than a  systematic and institutional approach. 

If the government is truly committed to Closing the Gap between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal  people, there needs to be a big shift in the way Aboriginal issues are perceived and addressed for  the real change to happen. Otherwise, WE as ABORIGINAL people are going to be constantly left  behind at the start line in the race we call LIFE!!

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