On this year’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, the Australian Human Rights Commission encourages Australians everywhere to think about real actions that can be taken to advance the rights and needs of Indigenous children throughout the country.
Children’s Day, is the largest national day held in Australia to celebrate the voices and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children. The first Children’s Day was held in 1988, and now takes place every year on August 4.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda and National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell said Children’s Day is an opportunity for all Australians to reflect on the progress made in advancing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
“The theme of this year’s Children’s Day is ‘Little People, Big Futures’. We have seen positive developments in the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in terms of improved birthweight, preschool attendance and educational attainment, but there is much more we can do to ensure that these children have bigger, brighter futures,” Commissioner Mitchell said.
“All children have the right to be cared for and protected, and live free from violence, but the sad reality is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to face high levels of self-harm and exposure to family violence and lateral violence. We must do more to keep these children safe from harm so that they can grow up healthy and happy.”
Commissioner Gooda said there was an alarming pattern of Indigenous children being overrepresented in the child protection and criminal justice systems in comparison to non-Indigenous children.
The incarceration rate for Indigenous children aged 10–17 in the juvenile justice system is 24 times higher than non-Indigenous children. In 2012-13 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were 10.6 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in out-of-home care nationally. In 2014 28.1 per cent of all suicide deaths of children under 18 were Aboriginal children.
“We need genuine, long-term partnerships between government and communities, and meaningful engagement with families and young people, to ensure the rights of all children are protected and enhanced,” Commissioner Gooda said.
“Children’s Day provides an opportunity for us to recognise the fundamental rights of our children to grow up in a safe and supportive environment, with a strong connection to culture and community.”
Children’s Day is coordinated by the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC).