In 1988, the first National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day was established on 4 August and was set against the backdrop of protests led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their supporters during the bicentennial year. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples felt a day was needed to celebrate our children, to give them confidence and make them feel special and included.
4 August was historically used to communally celebrate the birthdays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were taken from their families at a young age, without knowing their birthday – the Stolen Generations.
Children’s Day has grown every year, becoming a major event in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and community organisations. In communities throughout Australia this special day has been celebrated with activities such as cultural events, open days, arts and crafts, storytelling, face painting, concerts, morning teas and community barbecues.
(from website: aboriginalchildrensday.com.au)
As Aboriginal Education Teacher, I visited all classrooms and talked with the students about Children’s Day and the importance of highlighting children’s wellbeing, safety and development.
The children viewed a short video showing young Wurundjeri and Kalkadoon warrior Jedda with Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Di. Together they take a walk through their country where Jedda’s Aunty teaches about her people and the land, and where Jedda learns to listen and understand her Dreaming.
Elders are the holders of traditional knowledge who are often called upon to provide reassurance, comfort and hope, especially in times of uncertainty.
The Aboriginal children at St Kevin’s have been learning about their culture and they know that one day they will be the Elders. They recorded a video in which they proclaimed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theme for 2020: We are the Elders of tomorrow, hear our voice. The video was presented in our school newsletter.
In their classrooms, the children listened to a picture book called The Lizard Gang, written by Kirra Somerville in 2004 when she just nine years old. Kirra, now 25, is descended from the Martu people in Western Australia. Her book won a prize in the 2004 WA Children’s Book Council of Australia Make your own Storybook competition. Our children were very impressed that someone of primary school age had her story published, and hopefully this will inspire them to reach for the stars too.
Our Children’s Day learning sessions finished with an Aboriginal dance, which was great fun.
All St Kevin’s children now have a greater understanding and appreciation of the important voice that our Aboriginal children have in their communities, now and in the future. And in a spirit of reconciliation, how all children can be responsible Elders of tomorrow, working together in the land we all call home.
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