Whether you are Indigenous, Muslim, both, or neither, we can celebrate Children’s Day together. Children’s Day is an Australian national holiday with historical significance.
Children’s Day is a celebration we hold every 4 August. It honours National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children throughout the country. It celebrates children’s place in our families and communities.
In some ways, Children’s Day is similar to Australia Day. Both days invite us to reflect on our nation’s layered history. But, Children’s Day specifically centers on repairing harm done to Indigenous families.
This holiday stems from a historical time of grief. 4 August was initially a memorial day for the Stolen Generation.
From 1905 to 1967, Australian federal government bodies, state governments, and church missions took National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children away from their families. Tragically, they often removed children as infants.
Government officials took away the children before the extended families were even able to know their birthdays. So, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people chose 4 August to celebrate the birthdays of the taken children.
Stolen Generation: Tragic Australian History
The Stolen Generation bears a mark from one of the greatest acts of social violence in Australian history. In some states, governing bodies kidnapped as many as one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. These kidnappings were legal under removal laws at the time.
Church and government colluded to create and enforce removal laws. These laws refused the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait parents to take care of their own children. The laws allowed governing bodies to remove children without just cause.
Many of the children targeted were mixed-race. Governing bodies stole children from Muslim-Aboriginal families as well as other Indigenous families. The trauma affected all Indigenous communities.
The government’s mass removal of Aborigenes’ children from their families was an act of cultural genocide. The removal laws were meant to force Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to assimilate to Australian culture.
Bringing Them Home Report
An investigation culminated in the 1997 Bringing Them Home report. This report detailed the destructive effects of the governing bodies’ forcible theft of children. In addition, it made recommendations to repair the harm done.
Since then, activists and governing bodies have enacted some of the recommendations. But, they have not taken all recommended actions.
The next year, in 1998, Australia held the first National Sorry Day. This day is also called the National Day of Healing. National Sorry Day honours and memorializes the cruelty and violence against Indigenous peoples.
National Sorry Day events are held every year on 26 May. Events focus on cultivating solidarity. They also raise awareness of the struggles Indigenous communities still face in Australia.
One event is the Close the Gap (CTG) campaign, which aims to close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Governing bodies stole a generation of Indigenous children. As a result, that act negatively affected generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Negative health effects include high rates of PTSD in Indigenous communities. Government actions also created social and economic barriers to healthcare.
In 2008, the Australian parliaments offered an official apology. This was a single step, although it was a step in the right direction. Today, activists, artists, and community leaders continue to take action to repair the harm done to our communities.
First National Aboriginal and Torres Islander Children’s Day
Our communities held the first National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August 1998. This was almost a decade before the Bringing Them Home report was published.
Children’s Day shows our children how much we honour and value them. It tells our children that they really belong here, with their families. This combats the harmful messages sent by anti-Aboriginal government actions.
Children’s Day is for celebration and healing for all Australians. It strengthens families, and it is a celebration that resists actions that seek to tear us apart.
SNAICC Children’s Day Launch
SNAICC is the National Voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. They structure events around eight priorities. These priorities are:
- Support families so they may care for their children
- Respect and honour Indigenous cultures
- Bring about healing and repair for the Stolen Generation
- Self-determine child protection
- Thrive by five with culture alive
- Plan for real results
- Build capabilities to build community
- Give children hope, wealth, and prosperity
National Children’s Day is one way to make these priorities a reality. Every year, SNAICC launches Nation Children’s Day with cultural events. They hold the launch at a different location every year.
The celebration events are diverse. Popular National Children’s Day activities include:
- face painting
- open days
- traditional crafts
SNAICC also uses Children’s Day as an opportunity to create and distribute resources. One popular resource is the Children’s Day bags.
These bags contain fun ways children can celebrate their cultural heritage at home. Children’s Day bags include books and culturally important items, like native seeds.
Celebrating Children’s Day During Covid-19
Last year, celebrating National Children’s Day was challenging due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities still created memories.
In 2020, the Children’s Day theme was, “We are the elders of tomorrow.” The theme encouraged intergenerational connection among all Aborigines. There were restrictions on gatherings due to lockdowns, yet these connections were strengthened.
Our communities have always seen elders as beacons of comfort and hope. Our elders hold traditional knowledge. They have experienced standing up for what’s right.
Last year, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children listened to the wisdom of their elders. They did crafts and activities that encouraged them to look forward to the future when they are elders. Many children and elders made videos for the National Children’s Day archive.
Our children also participated in dress-up games and danced to cultural music. Teachers included lesson plans in the archive.
Proud In Culture, Strong In Spirit
Every year, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day has a theme. This year the theme is “Proud in Culture, Strong In Spirit.” The theme underscores children’s right to be proud of their culture and heritage.
We encourage children to draw strength from their Indigenous culture. Cultural stories, music, and art draw us together.
We hope children will download drawing exercises and activity sheets that emphasize this theme. These activities help children understand cultural pride. They also encourage children to imagine how their strength in spirit might manifest.
Children’s Day is a cultural introduction for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. They may begin learning craftwork unique to their cultures.
The official Australian National Children’s Day site has downloadable instructions for many crafts. These include kelp hanging, making traditional jewellery, and creating and decorating clapsticks.
National Children’s Day Events 2021
If you want to take part in a Children’s Day event, look at SNAICC’s directory of events and celebrations. This year, there are over 600 events registered. Explore the Children’s Day Event Showcase by region to find an event near you.
Local communities host a range of events to celebrate National Children’s Day. These events might be community barbeques, morning teas, or concerts.
Some events are open, while others are solely for members of that cultural group. It’s wise to read about an event before jumping in.
2021 Children’s Day Ambassador
In previous years, Indigenous communities have chosen Children’s Day ambassadors. These ambassadors promote Children’s Day and the Aboriginal culture to Australia and the globe.
Last year, Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Di and Jedda, a Kalkadoon and Wurundjeri child, were the theme’s ambassadors. Their video message spoke of intergenerational belonging.
This year, our communities did not choose a single ambassador. Instead, all children get to be ambassadors.
We spotlight children from Aboriginal community-controlled early years childcare centres. We encourage everyone to watch these videos. They celebrate the youngest among us celebrated this Children’s Day.
Indigenous Early Years Centres
Our communities have chosen to celebrate our care for our youngest and most vulnerable children. Our early years’ centres speak to our communities strength and triumph over adversity.
The historical, unjust child removal laws were based on a cruel lie. The lie was that we, as a people, were unfit to take care of our own children. This year, we celebrate our community-controlled early years’ centres to make clear the patent falsity of that lie.
We celebrate the much more beautiful truth: we raise our children to thrive. Children who find pride in their cultures truly gain strength in spirit. Our early years’ centres are a triumph of our community.
Social Media Celebration
People celebrate National Children’s Day in person and online. Join in the National Children’s Day celebration online. Look for the hashtags “#ProudInCulture” and “#StrongInSpirit.”
If you are posting about your own celebration, please share the community spirit with these hashtags. People are celebrating National Children’s Day on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Honour Children’s Day With Cresent Wealth
At Cresent Wealth, we honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia. They are traditional custodians and elders of this nation.
This year, we join in celebrating Australian National Children’s Day. It is a day that continues the cultural, spiritual, and educational practice of Aborigine people.
This is why it’s so important to invest ethically: to honour the past and to plan for all children’s future. So if you’re interested in opportunities to invest your wealth with honour and respect, talk to us. At Cresent Wealth, we can bring your money and your values into alignment.
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