Archive for September, 2010


Posted in NEWSLETTER on 05/09/2010 by D

– UN CERD’s Report on Australia

Advance Unedited Version
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
27 August 2010: “15. … Drawing the attention of the State
party to the Committee’s general recommendation 23 (1997)
on the rights of indigenous peoples, the Committee
reiterates its recommendation that the State party increase
efforts to ensure a meaningful reconciliation with
Indigenous peoples and that any measures to amend the
Australian Constitution include the recognition of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as First Nations
Peoples. In this regard, the Committee recommends that the
State party consider the negotiation of a treaty agreement
to build a constructive and sustained relationship with
Indigenous peoples. The Committee also recommends that
the State party provide the National Congress of
Australia’s First Peoples with the adequate resources to
become fully operational by January 2011 and support its

– Media Releases

Rachel Siewert:
UN report damns Australia’s failure to end discrimination
31 Aug 10: “The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD) has delivered a damning report on
Australia’s failure to meet international commitments on
eliminating discrimination. Greens Senator Rachel Siewert,
Spokesperson for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Affairs says the report lends its voice to international
calls for Australia to negotiate a treaty with Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander people. “It is not surprising
that the UN is disappointed with Australia’s failure to
deliver on its human rights commitments, especially those
concerning Indigenous Australians,” Senator Rachel Siewert
said today. “Racial discrimination is embedded in the
Australian Constitution and continues to be enacted in the
laws and policies of our states and territories.””

‘concerned Australians’ – Australia’s Entrenched Racism
28 Aug 10: ” ‘concerned Australians’ welcomes the report
from the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination. The report calls for numerous
changes to the way Australia deals with ‘entrenched
discrimination’. One Committee Member, Patrick Thornberry,
[UK] referred to, “structurally embedded discrimination in
the way the Aboriginal intervention was being handled in
the Northern Territory.” The report calls for the full
reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) in
the Northern Territory in a manner which ensures that the
Act will “prevail over all other legislation which may be
discriminatory on the grounds set out in the Convention”.”

Intervention Rollback Action Group:
UN condemns Labor’s new NT Intervention laws

Click to access MR-IRAG-UNCERD-28-8-10.pdf

28 Aug 10: “A report released overnight by the UN Committee
for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has again
condemned the NT Intervention as discriminatory. This
despite recent changes to the legislation from the Labor
government that purported to bring the Intervention into
line with the Racial Discrimination Act. Barbara Shaw from
the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs
helped launch the original complaint to the CERD with
other people from Prescribed Areas in 2009. She says that
Labor’s new laws will perpetuate racism and reiterated
calls for the Intervention to be scrapped.”

ANTaR: CERD report requires serious Government response
28 Aug 10: “ANTaR today calls on the Federal Government to
act on the findings and recommendations of the United
Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD). ‘The CERD report has raised a number
of concerns about racial discrimination against Indigenous
Australians. These are serious concerns and they require a
serious Government response’, said Dr Janet Hunt, ANTaR
President. … ANTaR calls on the Federal Government to act
on the Committee’s recommendations to strengthen
protections against racial discrimination, including by
fully reinstating the Racial Discrimination Act to all
Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) measures.”

Human Rights Law Resource Centre:
United Nations Report Card on Racism in Australia
27 Aug 10: ““The CERD Committee’s report raises serious
concerns about a range of Australian laws, policies and
practices, including the Northern Territory Intervention
measures, the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act,
our treatment of asylum seekers, the impact of Australian
counter-terror laws and the violent assaults against
international students and Indian people,” says Ms Howie.
[Director, Advocacy and Strategic Litigation at the Human
Rights Law Resource Centre] “The CERD Committee clearly
states that in addition to addressing these particular
issues, the Australian Government must act to create legal
structures to protect people from discrimination. If the
Racial Discrimination Act can be suspended to allow the
government to pass racist laws, then better protection is

Australian Human Rights Commission:
UN Committee urges more progress on race discrimination
27 Aug 10: “Commissioner Innes said the [CERD] Committee
has reiterated the need for:
* the recognition of the special place of Indigenous
peoples in the Constitution;
* full reinstatement of the Race Discrimination Act in the
Northern Territory;
* the constitutional entrenchment of protection against
racial discrimination;
* better protection of Indigenous languages, and adequate
resourcing of bi-lingual education;
* a national multi-cultural policy, and a co-ordinated
resourced anti-racism strategy;
* that race hate become a federal criminal offense.”

‘concerned Australians’:
NT Aboriginal Elders Take their Message to the Committee on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Geneva
15 Aug 10: “Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM and Rosalie
Kunoth-Monks are on their way home from Geneva where they
had been attending the 77th Session of the Committee for
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
According to Dr. Djiniyini this was an important meeting
for both of them. He said, “We were able to present
evidence first hand. We were able to close the information
gap”. He continued, “We were able to speak from the soul.
The environment in which we were speaking was one focused
solely on human rights; it was not intruded upon by
politics. We were able to reach the heights in dialogue
and understanding that we hadn’t expected.””

– Report after visit to CERD

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Racial Discrimination
Report written by Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM on behalf
of himself and Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM on visit to CERD
16 Aug 10: “The UN was able to hear us express that the
NTER and intervention are not a special measures. It shows
that what the Australian Government is trying to do is
target the First peoples of this country. By going to the
UN, we are asking the Australian Government to take our
concerns seriously. … Visiting the UN has helped me to
see that we are not alone in the struggle for human
rights. There is a platform for all indigenous people of
the world where we can go and share our concerns. Both
Rosalie and myself felt great relief at being able to
share our pain, on behalf of our people in Central and
Northern Australia, in this forum.”

– Speech to CERD

Australian Human Rights Commission:
Commissioner appears before CERD Committee at the UN
Graeme Innes AM, Race Discrimination Commissioner, AHRC
11 Aug 10: “Rosie and Djiniyini, you are descendants of
ancient peoples, the world’s oldest continuing culture, and
you do not need me, or the Australian Government, to speak
for you. But may I repeat your messages:
* You did not consent to the Northern Territory Intervention.
* You said that the Intervention is not a special measure.
* You said that it [special measure] is not a positive or
concrete measure to strengthen your communities, culture
or customary practice. It has had the opposite effect.
It has removed people from their lands, and their own
distinct practices and world values. And you said that
without land and community at your spiritual centre,
every Aboriginal person in Australia will be lost.”

– Radio

ABC AM: UN says racism entrenched in Australia
“The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination has issued a rebuke to the Australian
Government over its treatment of Indigenous people. … Our
Europe correspondent Emma Alberici spoke to human rights
lawyer and UN committee member Patrick Thornberry who told
a press conference overnight in Geneva that discrimination
had become embedded in Australian attitudes towards

– Analysis / Opinion

SMH: Can do better: the UN verdict, yet again, on
discrimination in the land of the fair go
30 Aug 10: “Every five years, Australia is birched by the
UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
… Our turn has come again in time for the independents –
if they wish – to make this the issue it wasn’t in the
election campaign. Last week the UN committee, CERD, took
apart Australia’s record on race in calm but deadly
diplomatic language.” David Marr

Institute for Cultural Diversity:
What happens next on Australia’s UN Racism charge?
30 Aug 10: “Crikey writer Robyn Seth-Purdie points to the
down-stream implication of the ICERD report condemning
Australia. She notes that: “the UN committee on the
elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (the
committee) has given Australia another serve in its latest
report on Australia’s progress in implementing the
Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
(CERD).” Robyn Seth-Purdie

See Crikey article by Robyn Seth-Purdie:
CERD committee serves; ball in Oz court
UN Anti-Racism Committee Slams Apartheid Australia Racism
29 Aug 10: “Australia’s explicitly racist policies against
Indigenous Australians and refugees have been slammed by a
recent Report from the United Nations Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva. The
human rights-abusing Rudd-Gillard Labor Government violated
the Australian 1975 Racial Discrimination Act in relation
to Northern Territory Indigenous Australians, Afghan
refugees fleeing the Afghan Genocide and Tamil refugees
fleeing the Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka.” Dr Gideon Polya

– News

ABC: Australia ‘pretending racism isn’t there’
29 Aug 10: “The Race Discrimination Commissioner says the
next federal government must amend the constitution to make
it impossible to suspend the Racial Discrimination Act. The
act was suspended in 2007 to roll out the Northern
Territory intervention in Aboriginal communities and has
yet to be fully reinstated. A United Nations report has
condemned the intervention saying it shows discrimination
is structurally embedded in Australia.”

SMH: UN slams treatment of Aborigines
29 Aug 10: “The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination in Geneva blasted Australia for harbouring
an ”unacceptably high level of disadvantage and social
dislocation” among Aborigines, particularly those in the
Northern Territory. The committee welcomed Kevin Rudd’s
apology but said that saying sorry wasn’t enough.”

ABC: UN says discrimination embedded in Australia
28 Aug 10: “The United Nations human rights panel has
rebuked the Australian government over its treatment of
Aboriginals. At the release of a report from the Committee
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in
Geneva, one of the authors said discrimination has become
“embedded” in the Australian way of life.”

ABC: UN ‘shocked’ by NT intervention
17 Aug 10: “A traditional owner from the Northern Territory
says a United Nations convention in Europe was shocked to
hear how the Australian Government treats its Indigenous
people. Reverend Doctor Djiniyini Gondarra from the Arnhem
community of Galiwinku has just arrived back from the
International Convention on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination in Geneva.”

Ed Note: the next edition of WGAR News will include
links to submissions to CERD.

WGAR News acknowledges the contribution of a special STICS
compilation to the making of this newsletter: