It’s an F-minus for Indigenous rights

The Northern Territory came bottom of the class, while New South Wales also flunked, but Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory got top marks.

They’re the results by Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, which assessed each state on a range of issues, including the way the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The organisation gave WA and the ACT an overall score of B, Victoria a C, Queensland a C-minus, South Australia a D, New South Wales an E plus and the NT an E for their performances in 2017.

The states were marked on issues including Indigenous rights, business and human rights, treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, disability rights and female rights.

On Indigenous rights alone, Australia collectively received an F-minus.

“As a nation, we can’t seem to move favourably in ensuring basic human rights are established and protected for all Australians equally,” ALHR president Benedict Coyne said.

“Considering Australia’s appointment to the United Nations Human Rights Council … our human rights situation is something we must address swiftly and comprehensively.

“To be appointed to the world’s leading forum on championing human rights, while so many Australians are being denied their own is frankly a little embarrassing.”

ALHR said the Federal Government got a couple of gold stars, such as for the legalisation of marriage equality.

But it said Australia was repeatedly slammed at United Nations forums last year for its failure to protect basic rights on many fronts.

“The sad fact is that Australia’s record on protecting universal rights has not improved much over the past four decades when Australia began appearing before these UN bodies to defend its record on rights,” Mr Coyne said.

Mr Coyne said Australia was the only Western democracy not to have a bill or rights or a federal human rights act.

Wendy Caccetta

reporter@nit.com.au

  • Also read our exclusive opinion piece by Amnesty’s Tammy Solonec here.



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