In 1988, the first National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day (NAICD) was established on August 4 and was set against the backdrop of protests led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their supporters during the bicentennial year. A day was needed to celebrate our children, to give them confidence and make them feel special and included. With so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in orphanages and institutions many children did not know their own birthday, in these places one day was set aside each year to celebrate a communal birthday.
Children’s Day has grown every year, becoming a major event in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and community organisations. In communities throughout Australia this special day has been celebrated with activities including open days, arts and crafts, storytelling, face painting, concerts, morning teas, community BBQs and so much more. SNAICC also organises a national launch for Children’s Day, held at a different location each year.
The day has also been used to highlight the needs of our children and families, and the important issues facing them. It has included some strong political themes, including the removal of children from their families, child poverty, human rights, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination.
For example, in 1991 Children’s Day focussed on the issue of the Stolen Generations and demanded a national inquiry into the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families. Through Children’s Day, SNAICC became the first national organisation to call for such an inquiry and campaigned tirelessly until the Federal Government announced in 1995 that an inquiry would be held.
Importantly, ever year the wider community has increasingly taken the lead in celebrating children’s day with amazing and diverse celebrations across the country. Each year SNAICC produces and distributes resources to help local communities and organisations celebrate the day. In 2016 SNAICC distributed over 15,000 Children’s Day kits and other resources to support over 420 Children’s Day events across Australia.