UNAA Statement on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The UNAA acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Lands and pay our respects to Australia’s First Peoples, the world’s oldest continuing culture and extend this respect to all of the world’s First Peoples and cultures.
The UNAA believes in the rights of all peoples and recognises and celebrates the continuing care for country, knowledge and connection to land, sea and community of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples for over 70,000 years.
The UNAA launched its first Reconciliation Action plan in October 2019. The RAP will support the UNAA to work more closely with and provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities.
The UNAA notes:
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples continue to on average, experience lower outcomes than non-Indigenous Australians in education, employment, health, justice, and community safety.
• In 2019, the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap progress report showed two of the seven targets were on track.1
• While the gap in outcomes is closing in some areas, it is widening in others. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples remain on average, at increased risk of being incarcerated,2 and are disproportionately affected by domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse,3 unemployment,4 and health issues.5
• Racism and discrimination in society and lower outcomes education, justice, the legal system and sport impact the rights and freedoms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. This leads to decreased access to opportunities and increases the risk of poor life-long outcomes and intergenerational disadvantage.
• 143 countries voted in support of adopting the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States voted against the proposal, but Australia formally endorsed the Declaration in 2009.
• The importance of all languages and diversity, in particular with 2019 being the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages.
The UNAA urges all political parties to:
• Recognise reconciliation is one of the most pressing issues facing Australia and learn from the relative reconciliation successes of countries such as New Zealand6 and Canada.7
• Lead in the acknowledgment, respect and celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and their history, culture, language, care for country and achievements.
• Accept the Uluru Statement from the Heart and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, leaders and communities to implement the recommendations where reasonably possible.
• Include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in Parliament, including through a recognised body in line with the Uluru Statement recommendation for the ‘establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution’ and building from the example of Canada’s Assembly of First Nations Peoples.
• Immediately review and implement where reasonably possible, the 330 recommendations of the 1987 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
• Increase opportunities for representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in all decision making and policy roles in the Australian Public Service, in particular in Indigenous Affairs. • Reaffirm its support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and re-evaluate its compliance with the areas of concern identified in the 2015 report of the UNDRIP Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review.8
UNAA Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan
The UNAA launched it’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) on 13 October 2019 in Adelaide.
Reconciliation and the rights of Indigenous Peoples is central to the work of the United Nations and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is fundamental to the work of the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA).
We recognise we are at the start of our Reconciliation journey and through this Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan, we commit to doing more to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. As an organisation and a country, we have a long way to go, but the UNAA are committed to working together with communities to assist in some of the most challenging issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
We believe in the power of strong role models in creating and supporting pathways into education and employment and believe we have a significant role to play in working to increase the representation and voice or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the United Nations.
We understand achieving our ambitious reconciliation agenda starts with supporting more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our organisation through attendees of events, members, staff and Board members. This work will not be easy, but we are committed to working toward supporting a reconciled Australia by taking actionable steps which:
Thank you to all who contributed to the development of this RAP. In particular, we thank UNAA Goodwill Ambassador Tanya Hosch for her support in developing this RAP and artist Gavin Wanganeen for the fantastic work used for the theme throughout.
We look forward to working with you toward reconciliation and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. To find out more or partner with us, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples Webinar
To listen to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led panel for the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, involving Tanya Hosch, Joe Morrison, and Malachi Murljacic, please visit here.
1 Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Closing the Gap Report 2019, p. 5.
2 Ibid, p.123.
3 Natalie Taylor, Julia Putt, ‘Adult sexual violence in Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia’ (2007), Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice no.345, Australian Institute of Criminology, p. 3.
4 DPMC, Closing the Gap Report 2019, p.96-97.
5 Ibid, p. 120-123.
6 New Zealand has a treaty with the Maori people, which has enabled reconciliation by establishing the Maori council, and a treaty-inspired settlement system for British abuses. Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, ‘What can we learn from New Zealand?’ (2014), Cape York Partnership.
7 Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada includes the Canadian Government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and information centres for various class-action lawsuits against the government for past abuses.
8 Reconciliation Australia, ‘The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)’ (2015), Reconciliation Australia, p. 2.