On 4 August communities across Australia will mark National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day – a day to celebrate First Nations children and their right to grow up strong in culture and spirit.
The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC), UnitingCare Australia and Uniting Church in Australia Assembly have joined this celebration reaffirming a commitment to actions and practices which strengthen connections to community, family and culture for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) children.
“As we mark this celebration, we acknowledge that all First Nations children have the right to grow up in a culturally-safe environment, guided by the wisdom of elders and connected to culture and community,” said Alison Overeem, Leprena UAICC Tasmania Manager and a member of the UAICC National Executive and UnitingCare Australia Board.
The 2021 theme for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day is Proud in culture, strong in spirit.
“Culture provides a compass for our children to grow strong in spirit,” said Ms Overeem. “To not only be surrounded by their culture, but for it to sit within all that we do - that is the sense of belonging and being that allows every ATSI child to thrive. When we dismiss culture, we bruise the spirit.”
UAICC Interim National UAICC Ps Mark Kickett said National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day was a celebration for all Australians.
“The majority of our First Nations children grow up strong in culture, supported by their communities and families, however a significant number of our younger generations continue to face challenges caused by the ongoing impacts of invasion, discrimination, systemic removal and dislocation from land and culture,” Ps Kickett said.
“When we as First and Second Peoples commit to walking together, when we uphold and take pride in First Peoples culture and commit to truth-telling about our history, and a voice for First Peoples, we build a stronger future for children, and, as a result, for our whole nation.”
UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little reaffirmed a commitment to supporting strong family and community connections for First Nations children.
“We must ensure that all policy decisions that impact First Peoples involve First Peoples in the decision-making process. Only when we work together to get the policy settings right will we be able to secure a future for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children where they will be able to flourish without disadvantage.”
Uniting Church in Australia President Rev Sharon Hollis encouraged all UCA people across our churches, agencies and schools to celebrate National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.
“I encourage UCA members to use this week to learn more about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of First Nations children.”
“How do we collectively honour and celebrate these values and ensure they are embedded in our relationships, our communities, our churches and our services?”
“As First and Second Peoples, let us celebrate and uphold our First Nations culture and help all our children to grow stronger together.”
You can show your support for Children’s Day on social media. The Children’s Day website contains excellent resources including children’s activities reflecting the theme “Proud in Culture, Strong in Spirit”. Go to https://aboriginalchildrensday.com.au/