Save the Children continues to support the Change the Date campaign and is encouraging all staff to exercise their views and make an individual choice whether they mark January 26 or choose an alternate day.
The Australia Day Council
has acknowledged that January 26 has different meaning for people, noting that to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians it is a day of mourning, while for others it is a day to celebrate the survival of ongoing traditions and cultures.
Save the Children CEO Paul Ronalds said that the organisation’s support for changing the date is fundamentally connected to its commitment to true reconciliation.
“Over the 65 years that Save the Children has worked alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities, we have strived to truly understand the impact of our country’s mistreatment of Indigenous peoples,”
Mr Ronalds said.
“Continuing to mark January 26 as a national holiday for all Australians ignores the fact that for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people it is a distressing reminder of the start of colonisation and the harm it caused – the effects of which are still being felt today.
“We recognise Australia Day has been a day of celebration for many Australians, including those who have become Australian citizens. However, to work towards a truly healed and reconciled Australia, we support a national celebration that recognises our shared history and culture, and includes all Australians, especially our First Nations people.”
Save the Children’s vision is for a world in which we fulfil every child’s right to survive, be protected, develop and participate. In Australia, children who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander are significantly more likely to experience disadvantage, including poverty, high unemployment, homelessness and compromised mental and physical health.
Indigenous youth are also overrepresented in the prison system and are over 10 times more likely
to be removed from their families than non-Indigenous children.
Much of this systematic and intergenerational disadvantage has been attributed to the harrowing effects of European colonisation and the policies which followed.
“Over a quarter of Save the Children’s Australian workforce identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. As an organisation we believe it is important that all Australians have a day to mark as we work to move toward a truly reconciled nation,”
Mr Ronalds said.
Save the Children is a signatory of the Redfern Statement and has publicly supported the Uluru Statement, both of which are informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and communities.
Save the Children has had a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) since 2011 and is currently working on building a ‘Stretch RAP’ to accelerate its journey towards Reconciliation. View the 2016-2019 RAP here
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