NEWS CENTRE

Opportunity to respond to important issues

The Institute’s Specific Issues Committee for Indigenous Concerns is highlighting a petition to be presented to the Senate which calls for the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory. The Committee also alerts readers to a request from Mr Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, for views on Australia’s support of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory
The Institute’s Specific Issues Committee for Indigenous Concerns has been alerted to a petition Senator Rachel Siewert will present to the Senate in late August 2008. The petition calls for the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory.

Excerpts from the preamble to the petition:
The Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory that pertains to the Emergency Intervention was suspended last year. Its suspension is an issue for all Australians, Indigenous and Non-Indigenous. It is a human rights issue…
 
In Australia, all Australians have the right to services – health, education, housing etc. Recently Professor Jon Altman from ANU stated that “the Rudd government must look at the key issue of human rights and the Intervention’s initial premise that Indigenous Australians must give up those rights just to be entitled to the basic infrastructure and services that are provided to all other Australians”.
 
Tom Calma, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner (HREOC) has provided to Government a ten-point plan to improve the Intervention and this includes the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory."

The Institute’s Specific Issues Committee for Indigenous Concerns strongly encourages readers to support this petition and alert others to this campaign.

An Indigenous co-worker of one of our sisters in the Northern Territory has expressed great delight to have the support of the Mercy Sisters and friends for this campaign.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE: GoPetition

Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on Thursday September 13, 2007. It was adopted with 143 countries voting in favour, 11 abstaining and 4 voting against. Australia was one of the four countries who voted against the Declaration.

With the change of Government at the last Federal election, there has been a change in position on the Declaration with the Rudd Government indicating that it supports the Declaration.

The Government has now sought the views of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, among other stakeholders, on matters relating to how they ought to formally indicate their support for the Declaration.

Mr Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, is seeking your views on the following matters relating to the Declaration, as well as other issues that you consider should be addressed at this time.

  • Which sections of the Declaration would you like the Government to emphasise a commitment to?
  • What steps do you think that the Government should take to show support for the Declaration?
  • In the long-term, what steps should the Government take to implement the commitments in the Declaration in Australia?
  • Other comments you wish to make about the Declaration at this stage.

SUBMIT YOUR RESPONSE ONLINE HERE. Go to Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission website.

From: Specific Issues Committee, Indigenous Concerns (Anne McGuire, Sisters Rose Glennen and Moira Truelson). The Committee warmly invites your response to the article or the issue.
Email: indigenous.concerns@mercy.org.au

Contact: Carmel Heagerty RSM, Institute Justice Co-ordinator
Email: Institute.Justice@mercy.org.au