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Government disappoints with response to UN findings on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 1 Feb 2011

The Australian Greens say it is unsatisfactory for the Government to take six months before deciding whether to accept or reject the findings made by the UN Human Rights Council’s periodic review of Australia on the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues said today that the Government’s underwhelming response came despite having plenty of notice of the review’s issues, which have been raised a number of times.

“We were expecting a much more sincere indication of the Government’s plans to address outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights issues in Australia,” Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“It is greatly disappointing that the Government will now wait six months before deciding whether to accept or reject these recommendations,” Senator Siewert said.

“The periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has made a number of key recommendations to address the ongoing disparity of rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Their recommendations call for the full reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act and the implementation the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in Australian law.

“Other recommendations include Native Title reform, action on high rates of Indigenous incarceration and a compensation tribunal for the Stolen Generations.

“The Australian Greens have Bills before Parliament which deliver a number of the UN’s recommendations.

“I remain concerned that the Government response to the UN appears to focus on social and economic disadvantage as a separate issue from the human rights, empowerment and participation of First Australians.

“This Government has a history of using the need to tackle disadvantage as an excuse for reducing people’s rights – as has occurred with the NT Intervention.

“The Greens believe that supporting and strengthening the rights of First Australians and increasing participation in measures designed to close the gaps in health and life disadvantage is the only effective way to deal with the underlying causes of this disadvantage,” concluded Senator Siewert.

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