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. 

media-releases

Centrelink breaches hit Aboriginal people hardest

25 Feb 2007

"More than double the number of Aboriginal Australians are now being breached by Centrelink as a result of Welfare to Work," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"When questioned in the Senate this afternoon the new Minister for Human Services, Ian Campbell was obviously unaware of the impact of the breaching regime on Aboriginal Australians," she said.

"It is clearly not on the Government's radar, despite warnings of the potential adverse impact of Welfare to Work on Aboriginal communities."

"More than double the number of Aboriginal Australians are now being breached by Centrelink as a result of Welfare to Work," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"When questioned in the Senate this afternoon the new Minister for Human Services, Ian Campbell was obviously unaware of the impact of the breaching regime on Aboriginal Australians," she said.

"It is clearly not on the Government's radar, despite warnings of the potential adverse impact of Welfare to Work on Aboriginal communities."

questions-without-notice

An inhuman welfare system

25 Feb 2007

My question is to the Minister for Human Services, Senator Ian Campbell. Is the minister aware of the dramatic increase in the number of Aboriginal Australians on income support payments who have been given an eight-week non-payment penalty, or breached, by Centrelink? Is the minister aware that, in the first three months of the new compliance system, 140 Aboriginal people were breached? This is nearly double the figure of the previous three months, or an increase of 133 per cent. Is the minister concerned that, of 170 breaches in his home state of WA, 50 were Aboriginal people-nearly a third of all breaches? Is the minister aware of these alarming figures? What does the minister intend to do to address this pressing problem?

My question is to the Minister for Human Services, Senator Ian Campbell. Is the minister aware of the dramatic increase in the number of Aboriginal Australians on income support payments who have been given an eight-week non-payment penalty, or breached, by Centrelink? Is the minister aware that, in the first three months of the new compliance system, 140 Aboriginal people were breached? This is nearly double the figure of the previous three months, or an increase of 133 per cent. Is the minister concerned that, of 170 breaches in his home state of WA, 50 were Aboriginal people-nearly a third of all breaches? Is the minister aware of these alarming figures? What does the minister intend to do to address this pressing problem?

speeches-in-parliament

Stolen Wages - Unfinished Business

06 Dec 2006

This is an extremely important issue and I thank the Senate for granting me leave to make a statement. Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that we are on Ngunnawal people's lands. They are the traditional owners of the land on which we stand. I also want to acknowledge all of the Aboriginal people who worked hard to build this country but did not receive the benefits of that wealth creation.

I particularly want to acknowledge the witnesses who came forward to give their evidence to the committee. I understand that it caused them, in some cases, deep distress. I extend my thanks and deep respect to those witnesses.

In speaking today on the tabling of this report, I want to focus particularly on the issues relating to my home state of Western Australia. I am doing so because the preliminary evidence that has been brought to light during the inquiry indicates that the issue and the scale of injustice is every bit as serious in the west as it was in Queensland and New South Wales. In particular, the small amount of historical research done so far in the west indicates that there was a systematic alienation of pension and maternity allowances in the state and that this was huge.

This is an extremely important issue and I thank the Senate for granting me leave to make a statement. Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that we are on Ngunnawal people's lands. They are the traditional owners of the land on which we stand. I also want to acknowledge all of the Aboriginal people who worked hard to build this country but did not receive the benefits of that wealth creation.

I particularly want to acknowledge the witnesses who came forward to give their evidence to the committee. I understand that it caused them, in some cases, deep distress. I extend my thanks and deep respect to those witnesses.

In speaking today on the tabling of this report, I want to focus particularly on the issues relating to my home state of Western Australia. I am doing so because the preliminary evidence that has been brought to light during the inquiry indicates that the issue and the scale of injustice is every bit as serious in the west as it was in Queensland and New South Wales. In particular, the small amount of historical research done so far in the west indicates that there was a systematic alienation of pension and maternity allowances in the state and that this was huge.

speeches-in-parliament

Aboriginal health 'third world standard'

12 Oct 2006

I rise to take note of the report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner for 2004-05. This report again highlights the very significant health issues facing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia. I need once again to highlight the statistics that are affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

I rise to take note of the report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner for 2004-05. This report again highlights the very significant health issues facing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia. I need once again to highlight the statistics that are affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

speeches-in-parliament

Perth land claim a testament to survival

11 Oct 2006

I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners and my respect for the fact that I am speaking on Ngunawal land. On 19 September 2006 Justice Wilcox handed down his decision recognising Noongar native title over an area of 6,000 square kilometres including the Perth metropolitan area but excluding all freehold and most leasehold land. It is fair to say that this caused a great deal of excitement in the Noongar community in Perth. But I have been concerned by the reaction of both the state and federal governments and disappointed by a number of misleading public statements which seem to be aimed at creating a climate of fear around this claim.

I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners and my respect for the fact that I am speaking on Ngunawal land. On 19 September 2006 Justice Wilcox handed down his decision recognising Noongar native title over an area of 6,000 square kilometres including the Perth metropolitan area but excluding all freehold and most leasehold land. It is fair to say that this caused a great deal of excitement in the Noongar community in Perth. But I have been concerned by the reaction of both the state and federal governments and disappointed by a number of misleading public statements which seem to be aimed at creating a climate of fear around this claim.

questions-on-notice

Questioning the future of the Burrup

10 Oct 2006

My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell. I refer to the minister's decision to delay the addition of the Burrup Peninsula rock art province to the National Heritage List in order to carry out further consultation. Is the minister concerned that further destruction of rock art could occur during this period? Does the minister agree that, until such time as his decision is finalised, there should be no further destruction or disturbance of rock art or any other sites inside the proposed area for listing by the Australian Heritage Council?

My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell. I refer to the minister's decision to delay the addition of the Burrup Peninsula rock art province to the National Heritage List in order to carry out further consultation. Is the minister concerned that further destruction of rock art could occur during this period? Does the minister agree that, until such time as his decision is finalised, there should be no further destruction or disturbance of rock art or any other sites inside the proposed area for listing by the Australian Heritage Council?

questions-without-notice

Stand up for the Burrup

06 Sep 2006

My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell. I refer to the minister's deliberation on how to protect the heritage values of the Burrup Peninsula. Is the minister aware of other appropriate sites for development in the Pilbara region? Does the minister believe that the best way to promote development and return to the heritage values on the Burrup is for heavy industry to be encouraged to alternative sites such as Onslow or Maitland or the joint venture site on the Burrup?
If so, is the federal government willing to support measures encouraging industry to set up in alternative locations?

My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell. I refer to the minister's deliberation on how to protect the heritage values of the Burrup Peninsula. Is the minister aware of other appropriate sites for development in the Pilbara region? Does the minister believe that the best way to promote development and return to the heritage values on the Burrup is for heavy industry to be encouraged to alternative sites such as Onslow or Maitland or the joint venture site on the Burrup?
If so, is the federal government willing to support measures encouraging industry to set up in alternative locations?

speeches-in-parliament

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.

speeches-in-parliament

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.

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