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AASW’s Policy Position on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues

The AASW has advocated with, and in support of, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across a broad range of issues. Some key concerns have been the rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Out of Home Care, the Cashless Welfare Card, criminal justice, Close the Gap targets, Australia Day and Constitutional Recognition. We are particularly concerned at the potential creation of a second Stolen Generation as a result of current Child Protection policies, and a lack of supported, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander -led responses to historical and present issues.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. Australia was one of four countries which voted not to sign, out of a total of 148 states. The AASW supports the UN’s policy of giving unique recognition to the rights of the world’s Indigenous people. This policy honours the violence of the colonial past and the impact colonisation has had and continues to have on Indigenous peoples. In keeping with the values underpinning our Code of Ethics, the AASW supports recognition of and justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across all levels of society, from the Constitution to the community.

AASW Australia Day Statement: Australia Day should be inclusive of all Australians

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) calls for a national day which is inclusive of all Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Every Australian should have the opportunity to celebrate our national identity, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

However, we must acknowledge that the current date for Australia Day makes it difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to enjoy and celebrate, as for many it commemorates the beginning of Western colonisation and the devastation that this had on Australia's first people.

We understand that for these reasons, for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, the 26th of January is a day of mourning, not celebration and continuing to hold Australia Day on this specific date reinforces the continued lack of respect given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in not recognising and acknowledging this.

This debate underpins the acceptance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians as the first peoples of Australia, the history and the ongoing effects of that history today and gives us an opportunity to move forward by taking the proactive and inclusive step of changing the date so that all Australians can share in our nation’s celebratory day.

While it is important to talk about the continuing disadvantages, it is also important to acknowledge the strengths, resilience and survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

As social workers, we will continue to work in consultation and partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian leaders, groups and communities towards reconciliation. Central to this, is supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian leadership and enabling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian voices to be heard and respected.

In part, this is about acknowledging that the date that we have chosen to celebrate our national day excludes a significant and important part of our population and making a commitment to changing it.

First published: 25 January 2018

Position Statements

Date

Title

March 2015

‘Recognise’: A Statement by the AASW to support the recognition of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People in the Australian Constitution

October 2008

Indigenous Education and Employment Position Paper

October 2008

Indigenous Health Position Paper

2004

The AASW issued a statement in 2004 apologising for past wrongs committed against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the role of social work in these wrongs. Click here to read the statement.

1997 AASW and ACOSS joint formal apology -

Statement of Apology and Commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

Policy Submissions

Date

Title

July 2020 Covid - 19 Inquiry Submission

July 2018

Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Re: Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018

June 2018

Submission to the Senate Sanding Committee on Community Affairs Re: Accessibility and quality of mental health services in rural and remote Australia

April 2018

Submission to Closing the Gap Refresh

November 2016

Submission to Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory

Media Releases

Date

Title

13 November, 2020

NAIDOC Week 2020: AASW strengthens commitment to Reconciliation

6 November, 2020

NAIDOC Week 2020: Always Was, Always Will Be

7 August, 2020 AASW launches Reconciliation Action Plan, in the lead up to International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
27 May, 2020

Australian social workers celebrate National Reconciliation Week 2020: In This Together

8 August, 2019

Celebrate Indigenous languages on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, says AASW: 9 August 2019

12 July, 2019

NAIDOC Week 7-14 July: Voice. Treaty. Truth.

30 May, 2019

National Reconciliation week 2019 – A time to walk together in courage

10 December, 2018

Australian social workers support the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, calls on government to restore Australia’s place as a human rights leader

27 November, 2018

Local adoption report published: A time to recommit to the best interests and cultural rights of Indigenous children

9 August, 2018

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples: 2018

4 July, 2018

Because of Her, We Can! AASW supports NAIDOC Week 2018

27 May, 2018

National Reconciliation Week 2018: Don’t keep history a mystery

15 March, 2018

Close the Gap Day 2018: AASW renews its call for a greater focus on social justice and reconciliation

1 March, 2018

AASW calls on Government to end its human rights abuses in Australia, as it takes its seat on the UN Human Rights Council

12 February, 2018

On the 10th anniversary of the National Apology, the AASW renews its call for action and justice

25 January, 2018

Australia Day should be inclusive of all Australians, says AASW

17 November, 2017

Royal Commission into Northern Territory youth detention marks major opportunity for change: AASW

26 May, 2017

National Sorry Day about learning from the past: AASW

16 March, 2017

Regional and remote social work on Alice Springs' agenda

9 February, 2017

Regional and remote social services the focus of new NT conference

11 February, 2016

AASW supports Close the Gap Progress and Priorities Report

19 March, 2015

Reverse cuts to 'Close the Gap'

12 March, 2015

Remote communities not simply lifestyle choices

9 February, 2015

Justice for Indigenous people needed ahead of apology anniversary

Other relevant documents

Date

Title

27 July, 2016

Letter to the Editor: NT News

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers