The Guardian August 22, 2001


The challenge!
Love, respect, reconciliation, support

National Aboriginal and Islander Children's Day (NAICD) is an annual 
event celebrated on August 4 since it was established in 1988. It serves as 
a day of recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 
children.

Each year NAICD focuses on different themes. The 2001 theme  "We are 
watching and learning from you"  make us proud of what you do  
"challenges us all to think about our behaviour and its impact on 
children", said Muriel Cadd, chairperson of the Secretariat of National 
Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC).

"Too often children witness behaviour which carries messages of violence, 
neglect and indifference instead of love, respect, reconciliation, support 
and encouragement. SNAICC challenges all political parties, Indigenous 
leaders, organisations and individuals to think about the example they set 
for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children", said Ms Cadd.

Apart from providing good examples for children, SNAICC and ATSIC 
identified 10 major issues requiring attention from the government.

1. Making a formal apology to the Stolen Generations through the Federal 
Parliament;

2. Reducing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children 
being removed from their families;

3. Providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with access to 
family support services to prevent family breakdown and reduce the number 
of Indigenous children removed from their families by State welfare 
organisations;

4. Making a national commitment to early childhood development by expanding 
the number of Multifunctional Aboriginal Children's Services, and other 
early childhood services to ensure all Aboriginal and Islander children 
have access to quality child care and preschool education. Currently, less 
than half of Australia's Indigenous children have access to preschool 
education;

5. Establishing national benchmarks for government services to ensure 
planning takes account of the fact that 70 per cent of Indigenous people 
are under the age of 30;

6. Implementing recommendations from Bringing Them Home including 
those in relation to National Legislation to cover:

* reform of the current State based system of child protection;
* abolishing mandatory sentencing in NT and WA;

7. Implementing a National Plan for the Prevention of Child Abuse and 
Neglect commissioned by the Federal Government in 1996 but not funded;

8. Establishing a National Indigenous Youth Strategy as recommended by the 
Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody with a key focus on 
community involvement for young people who have no opportunity to work or 
study;

9. Implementing and further developing the recommendations of the Royal 
Commission into Indigenous Deaths in Custody which were re-endorsed by a 
Ministerial Summit during 1997;

10. Reversing the 1996 budget cuts to ATSIC to enable ATSIC to reinstate 
its Community and Youth Support Program.

Back to index page