Stand up for Human Rights in Australia: Self Determination not Intervention


Monday 10th December 2007

Australia's most significant and unresolved human rights issues will be discussed at a public forum on the NT Intervention and the struggle for Indigenous Peoples justice at Melbourne Town Hall tonight to mark World Human Rights Day.

Barbara Shaw, a town camp resident in Alice Springs and executive member of Tangentyere council, is travelling from the NT to speak in Melbourne and will join with local Victorian speakers to talk about the recent NT Intervention and the human rights violations for aboriginal people right across Australia.

"The little children are sacred report had nothing to do with land, and the Commonwealth's legislation has nothing to do with children", said Ms Shaw. "There is not a single reference to child protection in the hundreds of pages that comprise the Commonwealth's legislative package."

"John Howard neglected us for the last 11 years, now we have no rights to anything. With the intervention there's been changes to every law; land rights law, the racial discrimination act, the social security act. Minister Brough thought he had the power to take everything off us. Now the incoming Rudd government needs to get serious about restoring our rights and removing the Intervention legislation. I'm coming to Melbourne to inform the rest of Australia about the changes, to share stories of those on the ground and talk about what we can do next."

In August the Howard government passed the `Intervention legislation that over-rode the Racial Discrimination Act. In September Australia was one of only four countries in the world that failed to ratify the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights because they disagreed with the phrase "self-determination". Now the newly elected Rudd government is being called on to roll back the Intervention and get serious about addressing the human rights issues that are an everyday reality for Australia's indigenous peoples.

Robbie Thorpe, Gunnai-Kurnai/Tjap-Wharrung activist, said "Until the issue of the Black GST, (Genocide Sovereignty Treaty) are resolved, Australia remains a crime scene and the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people remains a blight on humanity. The treaty business remains central. A Treaty will provide a proper legal foundation for this country to grow as an independent nation."

Dr. Jocelyn Scutt, Human Rights Lawyer said "It was obvious no member of parliament could have read, much less absorbed, the 500 pages of NT legislation when it passed through Federal Parliament in 3 days. In those circumstances, asserting that they wanted to do `the best' for indigenous children is not credible."

"Australia must move to ratify the UN Treaty on the rights of Indigenous persons immediately. The Government should also act to ensure that the recent history is not repeated and the racial discrimination act is never again bi-passed. As the first all encompassing discrimination legislation in Australia the Racial Discrimination Act must be strengthened and it integrity maintained."

Event details: 6:30pm for a 7pm start of speakers, Monday 10th December
Swanston Hall at the Melbourne Town Hall, cnr Swanston St and Collins St.
Organised by the Alliance for Indigneous Self-Determination.

For more information contact: Michaela Stubbs – 0429 136 935
Robbie Thorpe - 0437 967 039
Jocelyn Scutt - 0412 250 504

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