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Children’s Day 2016 – Policy Messages

On Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, 4 August 2016, SNAICC calls for change for our children in the two following key areas that reflect this year’s theme.

Recognise and value the unique strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been practicing and passing on our rich cultural traditions in deep connection with this land for 60,000 years. The strengths of our cultures include long-held traditions of nurture and care for children, passing on cultural knowledge, language, practices and custodianship of the land to successive generations. Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures reflect both the strengths of these continuing traditions and the resilience of our peoples in the face of discrimination and racism since colonisation began. Research and experience tell us that our kids do best when they develop positive self-identity and are proud of their cultural heritage.

Actions for everyone to ensure we all belong:

  • Develop knowledge, respect and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and history within your organisation, school or community
  • Recognise that all Australians have the right to belong and equally participate in our society while practicing their unique cultural traditions – and that this right is far from being fully realised. Identify ways that you can ensure your organisation, school or community could better embody this recognition
  • Celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, including through national days of celebration and remembrance such as NAIDOC, Children’s Day, Mabo Day and Sorry Day

 Recommendations for change:

  • Increase Indigenous peoples’ access to, and sense of belonging in, services by developing and requiring cultural awareness and competence in all services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families
  • Improve our most vulnerable children’s connection to culture through a strategy to fully implement the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle
  • Deepen future generations’ understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures by including education about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history in school education curriculum, teaching practice, and professional learning for education and community service workers
  • Provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with opportunities to learn in their cultures and first languages, through supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood services and including culture in early childhood curriculum

Partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisation to enable their voice and participation

 At the heart of our call for change is the belief that self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is the key to brighter futures for our kids. Evidence supports that better outcomes are achieved when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have control over our own lives and are empowered to address the problems facing our own communities. However, too often the participation and voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is left out in public debate, policy development, and service design and delivery. Our voices are marginalised because we are in the minority, because in many cases we have less access to resources, and because of ongoing racism and discrimination.

Non-Indigenous people and organisations can help to address this imbalance by partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations in a genuine way to include our voice, and empower our role in responding to the needs of our children and families.

Actions for everyone to ensure we all belong:

  • Reach out to and build relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, organisations and Elders in the community
  • Consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about any supports or services for our children
  • Respect, support and enable the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to provide services for our children and families
  • Partner with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisation to host a Children’s Day event or an activity for children in the future
  • Use SNAICC’s Creating Change Through Partnership resources to assess, develop and grow partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations

Recommendations for change:

  • Incorporate requirements for genuine partnership development with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in tender and contract specifications for services for our children and families, including requirements to build and handover service capacity to our organisations
  • Provide training and facilitation support to non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations exploring partnerships, drawing on SNAICC’s Creating Change Through Partnerships resources
  • Work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and organisations to develop national, state, and local strategies to address the over-representation of our children in out-of-home care as part of SNAICC’s Family Matters: kids safe in culture not in care campaign
  • Resource and support representative, independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to partner in policy development, including the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, SNAICC and other peak bodies across child and family support, health, education, women, disability and legal sectors
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