2010 SNAICC National Conference
Alice Springs – 27-29 July 2010
SNAICC invited all those working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – early childhood and child welfare leaders, practitioners, policy makers, researchers and government representatives from around Australia. The conference objectives were around sharing and celebrating, growing our knowledge, challenging others to acknowledge history and respect culture, and fostering leadership.
ampe anwernekenheke – for our children
The SNAICC Conference held at the end of July was a great success with almost 1000 people gathering from all over the country making it the largest conference on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. It was a thought provoking time of discussion, exchange and learning for all the representatives of children and family services attending the conference.
An exciting line-up of international and Australian speakers raised issues of pressing importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families. Key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in the areas of education, health, welfare, well being and rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children presented keynote speeches, including Grant Sarra, Karen Martin and Kerrie Tim. We were also pleased to welcome our other keynote speakers Dorothy Scott and international guests from Canada and the United States, Cindy Blackstock and Joseph Sparling who shared their expertise and knowledge in child welfare and education outcomes for Indigenous children in their countries.
Amongst those who attended the conference were delegates from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-run child and family welfare and early childhood services. Many traveled far from community-run services in remote areas of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, and South Australia.
Over 40 workshops were run on a variety of issues including traditional and innovative healing, child protection, early childhood, men’s programs and also the popular Tjanpi Weavers. Alice Springs was a great location and turned on clear blue skies and balmy winter nights for a number of outdoor events, included SNAICC would like to thank everyone for coming and contributing in what we hope was a stimulating and enjoyable three days.
2007 SNAICC National Conference
Adelaide – 19-21 September 2007
The largest ever national conference on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children opened in Adelaide on 19 September 2007, with speakers highlighting the importance of culture and having a sense of belonging to Indigenous children’s welfare and wellbeing.
700 delegates from across Australia gathered for the National Conference of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), under the theme ‘Ngadluko Ngartunnaitya – For Our Children’.
ngadluko ngartunnaitya – for our children
“Today’s speakers have an important message about the importance of culture and the resilience of Indigenous peoples for all of us working with Indigenous children and families, and especially also for our governments – state, territory and federal,” Ms Muriel Bamblett, AM, Chairperson SNAICC said.
Speakers also highlighted the importance of governments providing full support to Indigenous child and family services to ensure these services can effectively support and care for children and to ensure Indigenous children have the same opportunities that other children have.
“We welcome comments by Mr Tom Calma reminding everyone that the reality of Australia’s Stolen Generations is not a thing of the past,” Ms Bamblett said. Mr Calma, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, marked the 10th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report in his keynote speech.
“Commissioner Calma highlighted the importance of the need for healing for Indigenous families and for preventative measures such as housing, child protection programs and schools, something that he remarked is not a feature of the Government’s intervention in the Northern Territory,” Ms Bamblett said.
International guest speaker, Cindy Blackstock of the Gitksan Nation in Canada, challenged the governments of both Canada and Australia, as both G8 countries with huge surpluses, to meet their obligations to Indigenous children as some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged of their nations.
“Indigenous people already have the answers to deal with the challenges we face. Governments must ensure that Indigenous organisations are fully funded and supported to deliver services that we know Indigenous children and families need,” Ms Blackstock said.
Ms Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, has also written to Australian Prime Minister John Howard asking him on what evidence the federal government’s emergency intervention in the Northern Territory is based.
The Conference also saw the release of SNAICC’s new publication to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Bringing Them Home, the report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families. The book was released this morning by former SNAICC Chairperson Brian Butler, who spearheaded the campaign for the Inquiry to be held, during his keynote speech this morning.
Contributors to the publication, ‘Remember Me’ – Commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report, including Brian Butler, Tom Calma, Professor Larissa Behrendt of University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Professor Anna Haebich of Griffith University, SNAICC Chairperson Muriel Bamblett, Rosie Baird of Karu Link-Up in Darwin, and UTS law lecturer Terri Libesman, have shared their reflections and recollections on the National Inquiry, how its report was received by the Australian public and government, and the continuing need for healing and a national apology.
2003 SNAICC National Conference
Melbourne – 22-24 July 2003
SNAICC convened ‘Our Future Generations: the National Indigenous Child Welfare and Development Seminar’ in July 2003 as the major event to recognise SNAICC’s twentieth anniversary.
The seminar brought together over 200 key Indigenous agencies working with children and senior policy and Ministerial staff from the Commonwealth and all States and Territories.
A full report with over 50 presentations papers, Our Future Generations, was published after the conference. For inquiries about this report, contact SNAICC Policy Manager Julie Higgins at the SNAICC office.
SNAICC’s policy paper, Seven Priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Families, was developed from the recommendations made at the Conference and further consultation with the SNAICC membership and National Executive.
1997 SNAICC National Conference
Townsville – 25-26 June 1997
SNAICC held this conference on Wulgurukaba country in Townsville, North Queensland, from 25 to 26 June 1997. The conference brought together a approximately 200 delegates from state, territory and federal government agencies and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agencies responsible for legislation, policy, prorgrams and service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.
It aimed to improve coordination and coorperation between agencies, to encourage sharing on work out how to improve outcomes and develop best-practice models, and promote discussion of the significance of the recomendations of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from families, the reommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and the draft declaration of the Rights of the World’s Indigenous Populations.
Speakers included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Dodson and leaders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child welfare and health services. The conference was strongly supported by both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Townsville, North Queensland.
The First Aboriginal Child Survival Seminar
Melbourne – April 1979
The First Aboriginal Child Survival Seminar focussed on Aboriginal Family Life and the Welfare of Aboriginal Children and was held on Wurrundjerri country in Melbourne in April 1979. It was attended by over 200 delegates representing Aboriginal communities from across Australia and senior policy staff from State and Commonwealth agencies. The seminar was a joint initiative of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, VACCA and the Commonwealth Office of Child Care.
The seminar is now recognised as one of the most significant milestones in the development of Indigenous community-controlled responses to the welfare and development needs of the community’s children. At that Seminar, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates first mooted the formation of a national peak body of community-controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s services – leading to the formation of SNAICC, the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, initially in 1981 and then formally funded in 1983.
In the years prior to the seminar the Fraser Government supported the establishment of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA). The government had provided the assistance of an Aboriginal Study Grant for a study trip to the United States for Auntie Mollie Dyer from the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. Inspired by the success of Native Americans in reducing the rate of child removal, and in particular the Yakima Indian Nation, Auntie Mollie returned to Australia to establish VACCA, which soon became a model and source of inspiration and support for the establishment of similar agencies in other states and territories.
By 1979 these agencies, most at the time still operating as voluntary associations, had decided to develop closer links and pursue national discussion of broader issues impacting upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Thus with assistance from the Commonwealth Office of Child Care VACCA convened the First Aboriginal Child Survival Seminar in April 1979.
The Seminar heard from a range of speakers including Mrs Mollie Dyer, founder of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, The Hon Brian Dixon, MP, Victorian Minister for Community Welfare Services, Marie Coleman, Director of the Commonwealth Office of Child Care, Canberra, Mr Brian Butler of the South Australia Aboriginal Child Care Agency, Steven Unger, Assistant Director of the Association on American Indian Affairs, USA, Maxine Robbins, Yakima Indian Nation, Washington, USA, Ms Penny Maxwell, Aboriginal Research Officer, Housing Commission Victoria, and Mr Gary Foley, National Aboriginal Liberation Front.