January 26 means different things to different people. At VACCA, we don’t believe January 26 is a day of celebration. For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people it is a day of mourning. It is a reminder of the lasting impacts of colonisation, of dispossession and invasion.
VACCA has provided services and protected and promoted the rights of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families for more than 40 years. In doing so, we have witnessed first-hand the structural disadvantage, injustice and trauma our people continue to face.
This is evidenced by the disproportionate rates of incarcerated indigenous children and young people. It is evidenced by gaps in health, education and employment outcomes. It is evidenced by the rate of child-removal outcomes, disconnecting children and young people from culture and Country.
January 26 is also a day to recognise the strength and resilience of our people, and the opportunity to celebrate the survival of our culture. A day which reminds us to fight for our rights, the rights of our children and of our community.
On January 26, we stand with our community in the ongoing calls for:
- Greater investment in early childhood intervention and healing strategies
- Greater community control and access to support for our children and young people in out-of-home care to stay strong in their identity and connection to community, culture and Country
- Compensation for our Stolen Generations survivors
- An end to deaths in custody and the racist laws, policies and practices
- The creation of treaty/treaties that are robust, honour cultural protocols and are driven and controlled by community
- The creation of a genuine “Voice” based on the Uluru Statement from the Heart
- A Refreshed Closing the Gap policy, based on Aboriginal self-determination
January 26 is not a celebration that everyone can participate in. This date marks the beginning of disproportionate disadvantage, injustice and trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. VACCA supports changing the date and finding a day in which we can all feel included and participate in equally – a day to celebrate together.