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Commission welcomes appointment of new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

Commission Commission – General

25
June 2003

Commission
welcomes appointment of new
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

President John von
Doussa QC has welcomed yesterday's appointment by the federal Attorney-General
of the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

The President congratulates
Mr Tom Calma on his appointment. He will commence his five-year term on
July 12 and has also been appointed Acting Race Discrimination Commissioner
for a one-year term.

An Aboriginal elder
from the Kungarakan tribal group (traditional lands south west of Darwin),
Mr Calma will succeed Dr William Jonas AM in the position.

"The Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner has an important
role to play in advocating for the recognition of the rights of Indigenous
Australians and seeks to promote respect and understanding of these rights
among the broader Australian community," said President von Doussa.

Another important
role of the Commissioner is to keep Indigenous issues before the federal
Government and report annually to Parliament on significant social justice
and native title issues facing Indigenous Australians.

"I would also like
to congratulate Dr Jonas for the outstanding job he has done over the
past five years in this role," the President said.

"On behalf of the
Commission I would like to wish Dr Jonas all the best in his future endeavours
and thank him for the effort and integrity he has shown throughout his
term, and indeed his life, to advancing the rights and lives of Indigenous
Australians."

"I think the following
words from Dr Jonas represent everything he believes in and everything
he has worked towards in his role at the Commission:

'For
Indigenous peoples to participate in Australian society as equals requires
that we be able to live our lives free from assumptions by others about
what is best for us. It requires recognition of our values, culture and
traditions so that they can co-exist with those of mainstream society.
It requires respecting our difference and celebrating it within the diversity
of the nation.'

Media Contacts:
Paul Oliver 0408 469 347 or Janine MacDonald on 0407 660 235