Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues

The Australian Greens acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s first peoples and recognise their strong cultural and spiritual connection with the land, and their rights and obligations as owners and custodians. We are committed to seeing these rights reflected in our laws and our society. All Australians, including those living in remote communities, have an equal right to essential government services such as health, education, training, housing, community infrastructure, employment support, and policing. We recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be partners in the development and implementation of policies, programs and services that affect them.

The Greens are concerned that Governments continue to overlook the important international agreements that recognise the rights of indigenous peoples and do not invest enough in efforts to bridge the gaps in many areas of our society. We are committed to seeing an end to the Northern Territory Intervention and Stronger Futures Legislation, delivering Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, compensating the Stolen Generations and improving the Native Title system. 

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Land Rights Amendments: joint press conference

08 Aug 2006

Transcript of joint doorstop with Senator Chris Evans (ALP), Senator Andrew Bartlett (Australian Democrats) and Senator Rachel Siewert (Australian Greens)

SIEWERT: I think its probably unusual when the three of us line up together, but this bit of legislation is being indecently rushed through the Senate. It's a great shame when there is a part of this legislation that I think it is fair to say has strong community support and that we all support, but being tacked on to that is a series of changes that have severe implications for land councils; for traditional owners; for their capacity to make decisions over their land for funding.

Transcript of joint doorstop with Senator Chris Evans (ALP), Senator Andrew Bartlett (Australian Democrats) and Senator Rachel Siewert (Australian Greens)

SIEWERT: I think its probably unusual when the three of us line up together, but this bit of legislation is being indecently rushed through the Senate. It's a great shame when there is a part of this legislation that I think it is fair to say has strong community support and that we all support, but being tacked on to that is a series of changes that have severe implications for land councils; for traditional owners; for their capacity to make decisions over their land for funding.

speeches-in-parliament

Land Rights Amendments: wrong way, go back

08 Aug 2006

The Greens believe that elements of these amendments are bad legislation. We are concerned that some of the amendments contained in the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006 will have significant impacts on Aboriginal communities. These are the biggest changes in over 20 years to what is considered in Australia to be landmark legislation that covers a large proportion of Aboriginal controlled land in this country-up to 50 per cent of the Northern Territory. Yet it is being rushed through the Senate with undue haste, causing significant community confusion and concern. The government claims that there has been sufficient community consultation going back over a number of years on this bill. This is disingenuous. While it is true that there has been consultation on some of it, there has not been on the controversial elements. It is telling to note that on the aspects of the bill that have had proper stakeholder input there is little controversy and broad community support.

The Greens believe that elements of these amendments are bad legislation. We are concerned that some of the amendments contained in the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006 will have significant impacts on Aboriginal communities. These are the biggest changes in over 20 years to what is considered in Australia to be landmark legislation that covers a large proportion of Aboriginal controlled land in this country-up to 50 per cent of the Northern Territory. Yet it is being rushed through the Senate with undue haste, causing significant community confusion and concern. The government claims that there has been sufficient community consultation going back over a number of years on this bill. This is disingenuous. While it is true that there has been consultation on some of it, there has not been on the controversial elements. It is telling to note that on the aspects of the bill that have had proper stakeholder input there is little controversy and broad community support.

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Indigenous Communities

14 Jun 2006

I would like to talk about an issue that has been in the headlines recently, unfortunately very negatively, and that is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. Now that the latest media 'crisis' concerning violence and sexual abuse in remote Aboriginal communities has died down, I feel it is appropriate to make some comments about the difficult issues that are facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and to address the underlying causes of the universal disadvantage of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.

I would like to talk about an issue that has been in the headlines recently, unfortunately very negatively, and that is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. Now that the latest media 'crisis' concerning violence and sexual abuse in remote Aboriginal communities has died down, I feel it is appropriate to make some comments about the difficult issues that are facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and to address the underlying causes of the universal disadvantage of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.

speeches-in-parliament

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage "Act of Last Resort"

11 May 2006

While the Australian Greens have some concerns about the detail of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Amendment Bill 2005, and there have been amendments circulated in the chamber, there is a bigger issue of concern that I want to raise-and Senator Carr touched on this issue, as did Senator Bartlett-and that is what this bill does not seek to do and the issues it fails to address.

While the Australian Greens have some concerns about the detail of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Amendment Bill 2005, and there have been amendments circulated in the chamber, there is a bigger issue of concern that I want to raise-and Senator Carr touched on this issue, as did Senator Bartlett-and that is what this bill does not seek to do and the issues it fails to address.

speeches-in-parliament

National Sorry Day

09 May 2006

I would like to take this opportunity to address the Senate on an issue that is very dear to my heart, and that is National Sorry Day. The organisation and establishment of a national day to commemorate, each year, the history of forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families was one of 54 recommendations made in 1997 by the Bringing them home report, the report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.

I would like to take this opportunity to address the Senate on an issue that is very dear to my heart, and that is National Sorry Day. The organisation and establishment of a national day to commemorate, each year, the history of forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families was one of 54 recommendations made in 1997 by the Bringing them home report, the report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.

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Land Rights and Development Reform

06 Sep 2005

I would like to raise the issue of Indigenous land rights and whether private individual land ownership might increase economic development opportunities and address the acute housing needs of rural and remote Indigenous communities. In doing so, I wish to draw the attention of the Senate to the report entitled Land rights and development reform in remote Australia, which was commissioned by Oxfam Australia and undertaken by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University.

I would like to raise the issue of Indigenous land rights and whether private individual land ownership might increase economic development opportunities and address the acute housing needs of rural and remote Indigenous communities. In doing so, I wish to draw the attention of the Senate to the report entitled Land rights and development reform in remote Australia, which was commissioned by Oxfam Australia and undertaken by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University.

speeches-in-parliament

Rachel's Inaugural Speech

11 Aug 2005

I'd like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of this country, the Ngunnawal people, and by showing my respect for the first peoples of this land. It always was and always will be Aboriginal land, and it is incumbent on us who have been chosen to represent this nation that we take responsibility for past wrongs and seek to redress current injustices.

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