We cannot Close the Gap until we recognise the trauma, SNAICC says
In order to truly Close the Gap of the lived experience of First Nations people and white Australia, our Nation must recognise the trauma that First Nations children and families have experienced, SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children has said.
Speaking on the occasion of 26 January, SNAICC said that what is known as Australia Day to many is not a day of national celebration, but rather a day of mourning, which marks the arrival of the First Fleet, and the perpetuation of the lie that Australia was uninhabited, and terra nullius – ‘nobody’s land’.
Acting SNAICC CEO Sue-Anne Hunter said The National Agreement on Closing the Gap “offers an opportunity for us to make our institutions and governments accountable for the injustices our people have had to suffer for more than 200 years”.
“But we can only meet the targets of the Closing the Gap agreement if we are all prepared to acknowledge and recognise the trauma that Australia’s First Nations peoples have experienced.”
Ms Hunter said that by engaging in celebration on a date which marks the arrival of foreign people to a country that was “clearly populated and rich in culture, community and diversity”, is “deeply hurtful to our peoples”.
“Instead, all Australians should reflect on how we can right the wrongs of the past.”
The impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been long and enduring, and this trauma has been passed down from generation to generation, she added.
Many families continue to experience multiple forms of disadvantage that make First Nations children vulnerable, and the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic accentuates this.
According to The Family Matters Report 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 9.7 times more likely to be removed from their birth parents, and this number is expected to double by 2029.
With nearly one in three (31.4 per cent) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living below the poverty line, First Nations families experience lower employment rates, lower levels of education and training and are ten times more likely to live in social housing.
“Before we can truly celebrate this nation, it is integral that the Federal Government genuinely acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights to self-determination, embraces our cultures and commits to closing the gap on inequalities that continue to impact our families and children. Now is the time to act,” Ms Hunter said in closing.
To learn more about the work of SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children, please visit the website, here.