National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day - by Tara Farmer

4 August 2023


Written by Tara Farmer - Cultural Lead Community Services - Centrecare

Tara Farmer
Tara Farmer

CAUTION: Please read with discretion as the content may be triggering and upsetting to readers.

4 August marks the 35th anniversary of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day. The day was established by SNAICC – Voice for Our Children to raise awareness and campaign for the rights of our children. This year’s theme is: “Little Voices, Loud Futures.”

The date was chosen as it is a date that was historically used to celebrate the birthdays of children who were removed from their families at such a young age, having no knowledge of their actual birth date.

Engaging in conversations can be somewhat difficult however enlightening as it exposes truths, myths and takes away the edge of feeling reserved, on the fence and guessing about the what if's.

As a descendant of families who were impacted by the Stolen Generations, I often reflect on the injustice of Aboriginal people, due to past policies restricting the children of yesteryear of a voice and choice. These children are our Elders today. Aboriginal people in general had no voice or choice due to past and present Government laws and policies.

Forced to integrate into a westernised world with no tools or knowledge how to, no understanding of the English language eventually taught to them by missionaries, no free handouts to be given a piece of land to settle other than become dispossessed and oppressed, the knowledge of knowing how to live, how to survive, how to become a human being stripped from them because of the Commonwealths greed for land and settlement and a temporary solution of segregating from society, hurdled into reserves, placed on missions and being kept under Government’s rule.

This day created by SNAICC is significant to all children, especially our First Nations children. There is still a long way to go to repair the disparity in the treatment of our First Nations people and change starts with us by encouraging and enabling a generation of young and emerging leaders to find their place in society successfully, without being judged, treated unfairly, or targeted because of their race.

If we can engage in a reflection or hold safe and meaningful conversations around the theme, what does the message ‘Little Voices, Loud Futures’ portray to you, to me, to all Australians?

What does that message mean to us as parents, caregivers, role models, leaders, Elders?

Most importantly, what does it mean for our children?

As a person responsible for the care and wellbeing of a child, whether it be on a professional or personal capacity, we all have a significant role to play in the lives of our children.

Gone are the days where the old saying was for children to be seen and not heard. Children have a voice, a right to be heard and we should be listening. Do we hear and listen to those little voices echoing in the background wanting a meaningful conversation and yearning for understanding and recognition?

By focusing on simple steps that we walk in daily, hearing and listening to our children and providing the necessary supports for their little voices to become vocal, will enable strong and positive outcomes, laying a solid foundation for their future.

Children are vulnerable and deserve encouragement, support, appreciation, and the basic right of being treated as an equal, with respect, and to feel valued as a human being. Heck there is no doubt all humans want this for themselves, so why is this so hard to not share this right equally amongst our younger generation.

We should not live in the past or change what has happened, but we can still engage in conversations that can provide healing and understanding. Australia has a history which should be taught in full and from both perspectives.

Once upon a time there was a little voice inside crying to be heard only to be taken away.

When we are on the same level and progress towards a better understanding as a collective, we can find a meaningful solution. Together with shared commitment we can help our future leaders create a safe pathway to healing, self-identity, purpose, and vision.

The LITTLE VOICES of our children can create the most wonderous LOUD FUTURES they dream of.

#littlevoices #loudfutures #natsicd23