Charter of Aboriginal Rights

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Charter of Aboriginal Rights.

As everyone would be aware, the recent NSWALC State Conference held in the Hunter Valley in March included a forum on the Federal Government's community consultations on a Bill of Rights.

A background paper on Constitutional and Human Rights Reform was prepared by one of our panelists, Professor Larissa Behrendt from the Research Unit at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology in Sydney.

The paper provided a thought provoking background, from an Aboriginal perspective, on the current lack of protections for basic human rights contained in the Australian Constitution, particularly section 51 (xxv1) (the so called "races power").

The Background Paper raised a number of threshold questions on how the Australian legal system can better protect the rights of Aboriginal people, including the need for a Treaty.

The panel pointed out that if Australia adopted a Bill of Rights or made changes to the Constitution that better protect the rights of our people, the issue of whether a treaty should be negotiated with Aboriginal people would still remain to be answered.

They further pointed out that there may be other ways of recognising Aboriginal rights in addition to a treaty, such as an Aboriginal Charter of Rights.

Given the level of interest shown in these matters during the Conference, and in the interests of stimulating further discussion and debate on these threshold issues, NSWALC has decided to circulate the Background Paper prepared by the Jumbunna research team.

This is especially so given the Federal Government recent decision to publicly endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Please find attached the Background Paper circulated to conference and the draft Charter of Aboriginal Rights.

We would encourage you to make as many copies of the document as you can and distribute throughout your community.

We would appreciate receiving your feedback on their contents in due course.

Bev Manton,
NSWALC Chairperson