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Survival Day: Honouring the strength and resilience of our communities

[by Catherine Liddle]


Catherine Liddle. Image: supplied

On 26 January this year, SNAICC – National Voice for our Children acknowledges and pays tribute to the resilience of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and leaders, and our continuous connection to Country and culture.


“Today, we honour the formidable strengths of our communities, and our centuries-long fight to have our stories and history recognised” said SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle.


“Before the first ships arrived in Australia, we had over 60,000 years of success in raising strong, happy and healthy families. That is an astounding legacy, one from which all our families and communities can draw strength and pride.


“Today is a day of mixed emotions. We must also acknowledge both the deep trauma and hurt that our communities feel. Trauma caused by that original lie of ‘terra nullius’ and the centuries of entrenched inequality and discrimination that have followed. And hurt at the scale of what has been lost since that first day of European arrival.


“Just yesterday the Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision released new figures showing that a staggering 22,297 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were in out-of-home care and other supported care at 30 June 2021. Each year the rate at which our children are living away from their parents continues to grow and this is one of the most shameful impacts of colonisation.


“Everything we do as Aboriginal community-controlled organisations is intrinsically linked to the impact of European arrival,” said Liddle.


“We are still grappling with the fallout of one of the very worst and most dehumanising falsehoods that was told about our people: that our families were not strong, that we didn’t know how to raise our children. In reality, quite the opposite was true.


“Late last year all governments committed through the new National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children to transforming Australian's child protection systems, putting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination at the centre. This year we need governments to deliver on that commitment.


“Today we call on all Australians to spend Survival Day as a day of reflection. To understand that Australia’s history didn’t start on 26 January, and that we still have significant work to do if we are to build a truly inclusive society. We encourage everyone to use this time to listen to the voices of our families and communities.


“Aboriginal leadership is critical to the process of Closing the Gap for our children” says Liddle.


“SNAICC remains committed to working alongside government to ensure that Aboriginal-led solutions are at the heart of all decision-making and that truth-telling and recognition of our history is a part of genuine system reform.”


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