Since 2007, Amnesty International has provided comment to the Australian Government about major concerns regarding human rights violations occurring under the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) and the subsequent policy modifications made since then.
Through the release of the discussion paper Stronger Futures the Hon Jenny Macklin MP has sought comment on the future of NTER policies and programs through the Stronger Futures Discussion paper.
The development of the Stronger Futures policy is a good opportunity for the Australian Government to renew its commitment to Aboriginal People in the Northern Territory in a way that respects human rights. The Stronger Futures discussion paper sets out eight proposed areas for future action. Amnesty International has focused its comments on the four key areas for future action of housing, health, education and governance.
Amnesty International stresses the need to incorporate homelands into any future policy developments. There needs to be a commitment from the Australian and Northern Territory Governments to ensure that these communities, which support approximately 35 percent of the Northern Territory Aboriginal population, are provided with long-term funding to maintain their viability.
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP)
The most significant human rights instrument for Indigenous Peoples is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP). The declaration provides an authoritative framework for the full and effective protection and implementation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The principles enshrined in this declaration need to be at the forefront of any policy development. As well as incorporating the declaration into law, policy and practice, the Australian Government needs to implement the recommendations from previous inquiries including from the Little Children are Sacred Report and the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Indigenous justice issues and high incarceration rates seriously hamper any efforts to close the gap.
To find out more, read our complete submission: Submission to the Australian Government’s Strong Futures in the Northern Territory Discussion Paper