Human rights groups back Constitutional change

David Shoebridge MP.

Australian human rights bodies have called on political leaders to work together for Constitutional reform for First Nations people.

The New South Wales Parliament has already formally supported the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’, which was formulated last month and calls for the establishment of a First Nations voice enshrined in the Constitution.

The Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities said the Uluru Statement could not be ignored.

ACHRA represents the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Equal Opportunity Tasmania, the South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission, Western Australia’s Equal Opportunity Commission, the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board, the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission, and the ACT Human Rights Commission.

“The Uluru Statement comes after decades of research, reports and calls for genuine action on the issue of constitutional reform that have often been overlooked and forgotten,” ACHRA said.

“As the gap of disadvantage widens for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Statement cannot be ignored.

“It was a monumental occasion 50 years ago, when Australia voted overwhelmingly in favour of counting our Indigenous peoples in the census. It is time to build on that.”

ACHRA said Australia’s political systems and institutions were inadequate in providing a voice for First Nations people in matters that affect their lives, futures and communities.

It said a national Indigenous voice included in the Constitution was in line with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The Australian Human Rights Commission and the Anti-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissions from across Australia encourage all of our political leaders to take heed of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, to work across party lines, and to implement real change, for the benefit of all Australians,” ACHRA said.

The NSW Parliament supported the Uluru Statement soon after it was released.

The motion, moved by NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, called on all political parties to work in good faith with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to deliver on the principles and intentions of the statement.

Wendy Caccetta

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