UN report damns Australia’s failure to end discrimination
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has delivered a damning report on Australia's failure to meet international commitments on eliminating discrimination.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, Spokesperson for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs says the report lends its voice to international calls for Australia to negotiate a treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“It is not surprising that the UN is disappointed with Australia's failure to deliver on its human rights commitments, especially those concerning Indigenous Australians,” Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
“Racial discrimination is embedded in the Australian Constitution and continues to be enacted in the laws and policies of our states and territories.
“Both Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard made election commitments to pursue the constitutional recognition of Australia's First Nations and so it is now the perfect time to move on constitutional reform.
“The UN committee also urged Australia to '…ensure the Racial Discrimination Act prevails over all other legislation which may be discriminatory' and '…adopt comprehensive legislation providing entrenched protection against racial discrimination'.
“Recent amendments to the Northern Territory Emergency Response Bills by the Gillard Government are a clear example of our failure to fully restore the RDA and wilfully misinterpret 'special measures' as a means of continuing discriminatory practices.
“The continued backing of the discriminatory NT Intervention laws by both the ALP and Coalition led to the unprecedented swings in polling booths in central Australia against the sitting member and Minister for Aboriginal Health Warren Snowdon – with some booths showing swings of upward of 50-60% against him and 30-40% to Greens candidate and NTER critic Barbara Shaw,” said Senator Siewert.
The Greens say the UN CERD report also calls for measures to improve the accessibility of justice and legal services and greater roles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in policy development.
“Our high rate of indigenous incarceration continues to be a serious concern, making the adoption of a Justice Reinvestment Strategy and increased funding for Aboriginal legal aid services is an absolute priority,” Senator Siewert said.
“Improved mechanisms to ensure proper consultation with Indigenous communities in policy development and implementation remain essential if we are to deliver on our commitments to end inequality in this country,” concluded Senator Siewert.
Authorised and printed by Christine Milne, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600