ALSWA drafted and delivered the Joint Intervention by the Indigenous Peoples Organisations of Australia during the Third Session of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in Geneva in July 2010 on Agenda Item 3: ‘The Right to Participate in Decision-Making’.
The intervention expressed concerns about the disproportionate impact of laws and systems not being properly considered and addressed in Australia. It referred to Aboriginal deaths in custody, Aboriginal housing and the Northern Territory Emergency Response as ongoing and worsening issues, despite numerous reports and recommendations that have simply not been implemented. The intervention noted the lack of representation of Aboriginal peoples in Parliament, low participation in the judicial and executive arms of government and that more is needed to address these issues, including through constitutional reform to remove racism from the foundations of our society and to increased human rights protections.
The intervention recommended the Expert Mechanism advise the Human Rights Council to urge States to:
- institute constitutional reform to ensure freedom from discrimination, equality before the law, dedicated seats in Parliament for Indigenous peoples, and preambular recognition of Indigenous peoples as traditional owners of the land;
- adopt parliamentary scrutiny of bills processes for all legislation to critically analyse and determine the disproportionate impact on Indigenous peoples including the inequitable distribution of funding and compliance with international human rights obligations, including the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
- immediately resource the development of national interpreter services for indigenous languages, and
- adopt measures to build the capacity of Indigenous individuals and groups to actively participate in government both horizontally and vertically, including measures to assist in overcoming poverty, disadvantage and trauma.
‘Intervention on the Right to Participate in Decision-Making’ – July 2010