Let’s talk about the United Nations ‘Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’. When the Declaration was adopted in 2007 only four countries voted against it: Canada, New Zealand, the US and Australia. Two years later the Australian Government formally endorsed the declaration.
After endorsing the declaration, Australia made almost no changes to policies effecting Indigenous people. Aboriginal children are being removed from their families at rates not seen since the Stolen Generation. Aboriginal incarceration rates are among the highest in the world. Aboriginal communities are still being forcibly closed.
Just some of the Declaration’s articles which Australia continues to violate:
Article 7: They [Indigneous peoples] must be free from genocide and other acts of violence including the removal of their children by force.
Article 10: Indigenous peoples shall not be removed from their land by force. Where they agree, they should be provided compensation, and, where possible, have the possibility to return.
Article 12: Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.
Article 19: Governments shall consult properly with Indigenous peoples before adopting laws and policies that may affect them. They must use the principles of free, prior and informed consent – which means giving Indigenous peoples all the facts needed to make decisions.
Article 26: Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use and control their lands, waters and other resources. Governments shall recognise and protect these lands, waters and resources.
We need a strong and resilient Aboriginal population in order to resist the ongoing dispossession and racism towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the huge gaps in health, life expectancy and imprisonment rates. Only Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal knowledge and Aboriginal culture can increase resilience and prevent the suicides of Indigenous peoples. Non-Aboriginal methods have solved nothing.