February 11th, 2011
I have received a statement made Wednesday in Australia on Aboriginal rights.
Here it is in part (edited without notation):
“Australia has faced questioning at the United Nations regarding its Indigenous policies. The failure to restore the rights of Aboriginal people is currently being scrutinised under the Universal Periodic Review process of the UN Human Rights Council and was criticised in 2010 by both the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
we have become increasingly concerned by the failure of the Federal Government, with the tacit support of the Opposition, to properly address problems facing Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. In particular, the Northern Territory Emergency Response (the Intervention) has been progressed without credible consultation with, or the approval of, Aboriginal people.
While there are some limited aspects of the Intervention that have been viewed positively in some Aboriginal communities, it is the compulsory nature of the policies which are of concern.
It is our belief that inequality cannot be addressed by the removal of control from affected peoples over their lives and land, as is current Government policy. Positive change requires respect and genuine engagement with the people themselves at the local level, rather than an isolated policy development in Canberra.
Examples of the failure of policies include:
· The delayed, incomplete and flawed reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act. . . .
The Government’s policy approach must move from one of bureaucratic control by Canberra to one of recognition of Aboriginal leadership, negotiation, capacity building and direct input by Aboriginal people to local government decision-making. Without the direct engagement with Aboriginal people, policy changes will fail. With Aboriginal leaders, Government must commit to a policy of support by developing economies, encouraging investment and creating jobs by improving transport and communication systems, and where appropriate, the use of taxation incentives.
Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory must have choice and must not be forced to abandon their lands and heritage in order to obtain services that are automatically provided to other Australians. The vision that is created must be one that is shared by both black and white.
We accordingly call upon the Government to start afresh, to comply with our international obligations by bringing the Northern Territory Intervention to an end, including the termination of involuntary income management and securing Aboriginal rights in accordance with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Present flawed legislation including that purporting to re-instate the Racial Discrimination Act and s 91 of the NTER Act should be repealed and the Racial Discrimination Act reintroduced in an unqualified form.