With the end of 2020 fast approaching I cannot help but look back on the year that was and the lasting impact the events will have on our future.
Whilst COVID-19 has impacted all our lives, the way we work, the way we socialise and the way we connect with family, friends, colleagues and, in general, each other, 2020 also hosted many other significant events that have or will change the world we live in.
We saw summer bushfires where sadly 34 lives were lost, families displaced, livelihoods threatened, and environment and wildlife devastated. Our deepest sympathies go out to all families and communities affected by the fires and COVID-19.
2020 saw tens of millions of people across the globe participate in the “Black Lives Matter” protests in recognition of all black people who have died in custody. In Australia over 430 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody since the Royal Commission in 1991, families and communities devastated and left dealing with ongoing trauma of the loss of their loved ones. Racism in all its ugly forms is killing our people, I urge our partners and supporters to continue to stand with us and use your influence to bring about the change that is needed to stop the unnecessary deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly in the health and legal systems.
AIDA continued as a member of the Coalition of Peaks (CoP) and this year we saw the CoP, with Aunty Pat Turner as the lead convener, enter a historic formal Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). This agreement sets out shared decision making on Closing the Gap and is underpinned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ priorities. It also sets out priority reforms about how governments work with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. A powerful voice.
I cannot provide an end of COVID-19 year update without mentioning the incredible work of the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID0-19 Task Force. The Task Force, Co-Chaired by Dr (Aunty) Dawn Casey (NACCHO) and Dr Lucas de Toca (Department of Health) included representatives from NACCHO affiliates and members, peak bodies and representatives from state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Strait Islander people in the fields of Public Health and Epidemiology. The work, informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, led by this Task Force has been highly successful in minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on our people and communities.
In closing I would like to thank all members and partners for their continued support during this challenging year. I would also like to give a huge shout out to our members who were able to assist through participating on AIDA’s COVID-19 advisory group, facilitating our webinars, guest speakers at our peer support sessions and to those who participated in the fantastic messaging campaign – thank you.
Finally, I would like to wish all our members, partners and supporters (our family) a safe and wonderful festive season filled with love, laughter and happiness (with clean hands and at a distance of 1.5m’s of course!).
2021 we are ready!