Tardy UN response dissapoints

Tardy UN response disappoints

February  03, 2011

Chairwoman of the New south Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), Bev Manton, has joined calls for the Federal Government to accelerate the process of rejecting or accepting the findings made by the United Nations Human Rights Council's periodic review.

The Gillard Government have indicated they will take six months to make their decision on the review, despite having extended notice of the ongoing, well-known issues.

The review evaluates outstanding issues related to the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and makes recommendations for future action.

Some of these included the full reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act in the NT, and the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Australian law.

Both are long standing policy positions of NSWALC and are pressing issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.

Chairwoman Manton today joined Australian Greens Senator Rachael Siewert in denouncing the Government's second-rate response to the review.

"The Government's below-par response to such an important review is gravely disappointing," Chairwoman Manton said.

"As the country's largest Aboriginal land council, representing some 20,000 Aboriginal people, NSWALC would like to see a more genuine response to the recommendations in the review.

"Some of these touched on some very important issues facing Australia's first peoples such as incarceration rates, economic disadvantage and a reparations tribunal for the Stolen Generations.

"If these issues, and Australia's standing internationally, are of such scant concern to the Gillard administration, they should have decency to be up-front with Aboriginal people and say as much," Chairwoman Manton said today.

"Our rights as human beings and as the first peoples of this country need to be supported and strengthened. They should not be taken lightly as 'impractical' or lacking in urgency.

"Time and time again governments have preached the notion that symbolism and practical measures can exist side-by-side.

"Perhaps it's time to put that concept into practice.

"Without getting Australia's human rights issues back on track first, the underlying issues facing Aboriginal disadvantage will continue to exist."

 MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Munro 0438 760 242