Date: 
Friday 27 August 2010

Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, welcomed today's report from the expert committee on the Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Australia made its regular appearance before the committee in Geneva several weeks ago, and the Australian Human Rights Commission made a statement during the hearing.

The Committee's report has welcomed the Australian Government's apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the expression of support to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the commitment to address indigenous disadvantage through the COAG "closing the gap" targets. It also welcomed the involvement of the Australian Human Rights Commission in its process.

However, it drew particular attention to the multiple forms of discrimination experienced by some Indigenous Australians, African Australians, Muslim Australians, International students, and asylum seekers.

The expert committee regularly assesses the performance of all countries that have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Australia's submissions to the committee comprised reports from Government, the Commission, and non-government organisations. The Government appeared before the Committee to answer its questions.

"I welcome the recognition of progress, including the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, the National Human Rights Consultation, and the Australian human rights framework," Commissioner Innes said.

However, Commissioner Innes said the 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.

"These are clearly areas requiring action by an incoming government," Commissioner Innes said.

All of these issues are outlined in the Commission's shadow report and statement, available at: www.humanrights.gov.au/about/media/speeches/race/2010/20100811_CERD.html

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay – 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529