January 26: Not a Date to Celebrate

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Message from VACCA CEO – Muriel Bamblett

For the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, 26 January is a day of mourning. It is not a date to celebrate.

We see it as a sobering reminder of colonisation and its lasting impacts including the displacement and genocide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the discrimination and violence they have faced since the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.

It is difficult for us to celebrate an anniversary that promotes the notion that this country was founded 230 years ago. In fact, we know that our people have been the caretakers of this land for over 65,000 years. Instead, it is a day for us to recognise and celebrate the strength and resilience of our people and communities who have survived, despite attempts of genocide and ongoing colonial violence. It is our “Survival Day”. 

It is a day which reminds us to fight for our rights, the rights of our children and our community.

VACCA stands for our community today and always. For over 40 years we have provided services and protected and promoted the rights of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people, families and community members. 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.

This “Survival Day” we call for:  

  • Truth-telling and treaties that are robust, honour cultural protocols and are driven and controlled by community 
  • Greater investment in intervention and healing strategies. 
  • Community control and access to supports for our children and young people in out of home care to stay strong in their identity and connection to community, culture and country.  
  • An end to Aboriginal deaths in custody and racist laws, policies and practices.  
  • A commitment to delivering the Closing the Gap implementation plan and reporting on outcomes.  

26 Jan is a date that marks the beginning of disproportionate disadvantage, injustice and trauma for our people. It is not a date to celebrate. If you feel triggered and need support, we have developed some tips for wellbeing and staying grounded to support you - access our Survival Day Wellbeing Resources.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material. To listen to our Acknowledgement of Country, click here.