The practical power of human rights

Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Law Public Lecture Series 2010

Mick Gooda
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
Australian Human Rights Commission

Wednesday 19 May 2010
Brisbane

Introduction and acknowledgements

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land we are meeting on tonight. I pay my respects to their elders past and present.

I am of the Gangulu from the Dawson Valley in Central Queensland and when I speak to my Elders, they ask me to pass on my salutations to the traditional owners of the land I visit for their continued fight for their country and their culture.

I’d like to thank the Honourable Michael Lavarch, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law at Queensland University of Technology and his staff for their kind invitation to speak on tonight as part of their Public Lecture Series.

It is an honour to be invited to speak on this occasion of the announcement of the recipients of the McCullough Robertson Support Fund for Indigenous Law Students for 2010.

I am similarly honoured to follow my predecessor, Tom Calma, who presented the inaugural McCullough Robertson Support Fund scholarship last year. I want to commend McCullough Robertson for their continued support for better education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through this and other programs.

The scholarship is run with QUT and the Oodgeroo Unit and will contribute to the development of our future leaders. This is important as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are underrepresented in the upper echelons of the legal sector. However, things are slowly changing.

More and more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are obtaining legal qualifications and becoming lawyers. The idea of an Indigenous lawyer was almost a foreign concept when I was first beginning my career in Indigenous Affairs. It is through programs like this that will foster the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and I feel proud to be here celebrating the achievements of Kaava Watson and Christian Garling the scholarship winners.

One of the greatest thrills of being in a senior position is watching our young people develop into leadership positions.

I remember working in Canberra in 1995 when three young Indigenous women commenced their legal cadetship in ATSIC. Whilst I can never claim to be an overwhelming influence in their careers, I have nonetheless kept an eye on their progress over the years since that day I met them in the MLC Tower.

Each have gone on to carve out their own place. Heron Loban now lectures at James Cook University. Kerryn Ruska, a great niece of Oodgeroo is a practicing barrister here in Brisbane and lectures at Griffith University.

The third pursued a career as a human rights activist and academic. About three weeks ago in New York I was honoured to be with Megan Davis when she was elected to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues as nominated by the Australian Government.

Tonight as I begin I want to acknowledge Heron, Kerryn and Megan, three young Indigenous women who do us proud.

Oodgeroo Noonuccal

How fitting it is then that the Scholarship Fund is run with the help of the Oodgeroo Unit here at QUT. Oodgeroo Noonuccal or Kath Walker remains a beacon of hope for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. She is an inspiration in our continued fight for justice and to see our rights fully realised. In talking tonight want to quote from Oodgeroo’s poem the ‘Song of Hope’:

Look up, my people,
The dawn is breaking
The world is waking
To a bright new day
When none defame us
No restriction tame us
Nor colour shame us
Nor sneer dismay.

Now brood no more
On the years behind you
The hope assigned you
Shall the past replace
When a juster justice
Grown wise and stronger
Points the bone no longer
At a darker race...

New rights will greet us
New mateship meet us
And joy complete us
In our new Dreamtime[1]

Practical power of rights

It is in the hope of a dawn breaking and the world waking to a bright new day that I want to talk about the practical power of human rights. It is in the exercise of this practical power that I believe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can address the multiple and trans-generational layers of disadvantage and trauma confronting us in our communities.

I have worked in Indigenous affairs for all of my professional life and when I was approached about this position as Commissioner I was hesitant at first because I didn’t see myself as a human rights activist. But as one of my closest colleagues pointed out, you can’t work in Indigenous affairs without being a human rights activist. Working on Indigenous issues means that you are working with human rights day in and day out.

All of the issues you deal with in Indigenous affairs; effective engagement, poverty, education, health, protection of culture and languages, incarceration rates, protection of women and children, all of these issues are human rights issues.

Tonight I want to talk about how human rights standards outline the practical framework, or roadmap if you like, that that offers a pathway to what Oodgeroo called a ‘more juster justice’.

Unfortunately in Australia the practical power of rights in creating a fair and just society is often misunderstood. Frequently debates on human rights are sidetracked by dichotomies that distract us from, and dilutes the real work and power of human rights.

We have seen this in the recent debate on a possible Human Rights Act in Australia. The National Human Rights Consultation Report recommended a Human Rights Act, based on strong public support.[2] The Australian Government response was to develop a Human Rights Framework,[3] which brings with it some welcome aspects, notably increased parliamentary scrutiny and human rights education. However, the Government has decided against a Human Rights Act because it wanted a response that ‘unites rather than divides our community’.[4]

One of the main arguments driving this division was that as a liberal democracy our human rights are already adequately protected in Australia.[5] This is a point I will address later, but democratic principles are not protecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s from disadvantage and discrimination.

So I want to return to the practical power of human rights, which at its core, is as simple as creating a fair society where all individuals and groups are free, equal and empowered. However, there are two dichotomies which detract from practical power of human rights that I will address tonight:

  1. the juxtaposition between human rights and action; and
  2. that rights can be pitted off against each other.

Finally, I will suggest that the standards contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration) provide vehicle by which we might put the practical power of rights into action.

Rights vs practical action

The first dichotomy that I want to deal with is the juxtaposition between human rights and practical action.

On the one hand it is said human rights are seen as merely symbolic having no real impact on the daily lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. On the other hand is the idea of practical reconciliation where we are reconciled by action alone.

It is said that the focus on human rights detracts attention from the main game, namely the need for practical action to address disadvantage.

This approach was most evident in the former Australian Government’s focus on ‘practical measures’ which placed the rights discourse at the margins. However, these practical measures did not result in better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I will argue that actions without a solid foundation based on rights will always fail in the longer term because actions and human rights are not strange bedfellows, rather, they are inextricably linked.

They are not abstract concepts that exist in documents such as treaties, conventions and declarations alone. Rights are only rights when they are exercised. Therefore, the practical actions and outcomes needed to address disadvantage in real terms are the realisation of human rights.

Human rights provide governments’ with a set of minimum legal standards which if applied equally to all people establish a framework for a society to foster dignity and equality of all citizens.

Look at it this way, no one travelling by car from up here in Brisbane across to say Broome in Western Australia would refer to a road map as being symbolic. That would be illogical. Human rights are the same. They are the road map, with signposts like effective engagement, empowerment, protection of culture, that can direct us from the current status quo to the destination of a better, fairer and more equitable society.

Why do we not see human rights as a road map in Australia?

Next I want to look at why we do not always see human rights as a road map. The idea of human rights as a road map to a better societal destination is easily lost in Australia, because at one level we generally have a pretty good human rights record.

International NGO Freedom House through its publication Freedom in the World provides one of the most comprehensive comparative assessments of the status of political rights and civil liberties in all the countries of the world. Freedom House scored Australia with the highest possible score for the attainment of political rights and civil liberties.[6] For many Australians it is simply a given that these rights are realised. For these people a map better and fairer society is largely superfluous.

In general, Australians are not subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment, we have an independent judicial system, we have freedom of speech and a free press. All of these things are human rights, all of them when realised help promote a functioning and stable democratic society. Indeed in nations where these rights are not readily realised, it is their absence that inhibits a functioning and stable society.

For many Australians, the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights is also a given. We have functioning, although not perfect, health and social security systems; we have protections against discrimination in employment. We have access to education and housing services. Again it is the realisation of these rights that makes Australia a successful and prospering nation.

However, it is instances when our rights are compromised that we might seek recourse to these rights to rectify the particular situation. For example, some might ask themselves why Australia is looking at signing up to the Optional Protocol on the Convention Against Torture, while Mr Ward’s family in Western Australia might be asking why we haven’t signed up already.

Why do Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s need a road map?

So why do we need this road map if our rights are so well protected? As I alluded to above whilst the human rights of many in Australia are realised on a daily basis, the human rights of marginalised and minority groups are vulnerable. This is particularly true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

One of the major differences between the wider Australian population and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is their ability to realise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Let me provide a few examples. We were not counted as citizens of Australia until 1967. We do not enjoy the same standards of education. Our children were removed in the Stolen Generation. And today as a result of the Northern Territory Intervention there are 73 communities where the very instrument to prevent race discrimination, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) has been suspended. That means in these 73 communities’ people have only limited protection against racial discrimination for the sole reason that they are Indigenous.

As you can see when it comes to vulnerability of human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the prime example in this country. That is why for many of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders there is a crying need for that road map. For us human rights are not taken for granted. Professor Mick Dodson puts it this way:

The existence of human rights standards is not the source of Indigenous disadvantage. Human rights do not dispossess Indigenous peoples, they do not marginalise them, they do not cause their poverty, and they do not cause gaps in life expectancy and life outcomes. It is the denial of rights that is a large contributor to these things. The value of human rights is not in their existence; it is in their implementation.[7]

One area that I am passionate about is health. Poor health outcomes are decimating our communities across the length and breadth of Australia. It is an uncontested fact to say that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples do not have the same health outcomes as non-Indigenous Australians. This is a human rights issue.

Rights in action – the Closing the Gap campaign.

Addressing health from a human rights perspective is a clear example of how practical human rights can be. Framing health in the language of human rights can create the necessary political momentum that leads to action. The Closing the Gap campaign is a clear example of what I am talking about.

In 2005 my predecessor Tom Calma in his Social Justice Report called on Australian governments to commit to achieving health and life expectation equality between our people and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. This was based on our right to health and right to enjoy the same opportunities to be as healthy as other Australians.[8]

That Report characterised Indigenous health inequality as a major human rights issue, and called for a human rights based approach to the Indigenous health gap.

And as a rights issue, Indigenous health inequality was largely framed as an opportunity gap – that Indigenous peoples in Australia did not enjoy the same opportunities to be as healthy as other Australians. That is, to see doctors when they needed them, eat fresh food, live in healthy housing and so on. And this is where human rights play such an important role in providing a sound intellectual and legal foundation for an approach to Indigenous health.

Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognises ‘the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’.

The right to health is essentially the right to opportunities to be healthy: it includes the enjoyment of a variety of facilities, goods, services and conditions necessary for the realisation of the highest attainable standard of health. It is not to be understood as a right to be healthy (which is something that cannot be guaranteed solely by governments).

We have a human right to the same opportunities to be healthy as other Australians.

This focus on ensuring equality of opportunity is reflected in the way the right to health is understood, largely as set out in General Comment 14 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.[9]

Thus the right to health contains the following interrelated and essential elements:

  • Availability. Functioning public health and health-care facilities, goods and services, as well as programs, have to be available in sufficient quantity within a country.
  • Acceptability. All health facilities, goods and services must be respectful of medical ethics as well as respectful of the culture of individuals, minorities, peoples and communities, sensitive to gender and life-cycle requirements, as well as being designed to respect confidentiality and improve the health status of those concerned.
  • Accessibility. Health facilities, goods and services have to be accessible to everyone without discrimination. Accessibility has four overlapping dimensions:

    1. Non-discrimination: health facilities, goods and services must be accessible to all, in law and in fact, without discrimination.

    2. Physical accessibility: health facilities, goods and services must be within safe physical reach for all sections of the population, This also implies that medical services and underlying determinants of health, such as safe and potable water and adequate sanitation facilities, are within safe physical reach, including in rural areas.

    3. Economic accessibility (affordability): health facilities, goods and services must be affordable for all. Payment for health-care services, as well as services related to the underlying determinants of health, has to be based on the principle of equity, ensuring that these services, whether privately or publicly provided, are affordable for all, including socially disadvantaged groups.

    4. Information accessibility: includes the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas concerning health issues.

  • Quality. As well as being culturally acceptable, health facilities, goods and services must also be scientifically and medically appropriate and of good quality.

And I’m sure as I’ve set out these elements of the right to health in relation to health services, you can see immediately how the right itself is of enormous assistance to Indigenous Australians; recognising the importance of culturally tailored services, for example, in ensuring that we are able to access health services.

The right to health, indeed economic, social and cultural rights overall, also include guidelines as to how states are to ensure rights – like to health – are respected in a context where, historically, they have not been.

Thus Governments have immediate obligations in relation to the right to health. In particular, the obligation to take deliberate, concrete and targeted steps towards the full realisation of the right to health - known as the progressive realisation principle.[10]

In 2008 the Rudd Government, the federal opposition, the main Indigenous and non-Indigenous peak health bodies and the Social Justice Commissioner all signed the ‘Close the Gap Statement of Intent’ which committed all parties to achieving health equality by 2030, supported by a partnership between Australian governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and representatives.

This was the first time a government in Australia has made a commitment to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within a specified time frame. The Prime Minister has also committed to reporting to Parliament on his government’s progress against these commitments each year.

The Close the Gap Campaign is a great example how a human rights based approach to a problem can influence Government policy. And how a rights agenda leads to practical action designed to achieve practical outcomes. It is clearly an indication of the practical power of human rights.[11]

Using the language of human rights can lead to change

So what I am saying is the language of human rights can lead to real action producing real change. Looking beyond the health arena, the Overcoming Disadvantage Report of the Productivity Commissioner outlines the range of disadvantage confronting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.[12] This disadvantage carries across the entire gamut of socio-economic indicators. Each of these indicia reveals an instance of the non-realisation of human rights.

This disadvantage cannot be divorced from human rights. Indeed, I believe it will only be by articulating these issues through the language of human rights that we will see these issues practically addressed.[13] In this regard, human rights can be viewed as the platform for lobby groups to provide a clear policy voice for the unheard.[14] Logically following on from this I believe that human rights standards represent the best-practice guidelines for dealing with disadvantaged communities.

Rights vs rights

Let me now move to the other false dichotomy I want to deal with. That is the idea that rights can be pitted against each other, one right favoured over another. Of particular concern is the juxtaposition of the right of protection for women and children being pitted against wider rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in general, such as being free from discrimination. Again, I suggest that this view is misguided.

The Northern Territory Intervention

Probably the most visible manifestation of this is the NT Intervention. Much has been written about the NT Intervention, its background, its content and its controversies and I do not want to repeat that tonight.

I do however want to discuss how the valuing of one right over another leads to poor policy outcomes. It is this view that has led to support for the more controversial aspects of the NT Intervention, namely the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act. I am not doubting the bona fides of the intentions at play here. However, I do believe the outcome of this dichotomy is dangerous. It creates enemies between what is indivisible. One human right, the protection of women and children is championed over the protection of basic rights to dignity and the freedom from discrimination. It is playing rights off against each other. This leads to a ‘with us, or against us’ approach. And the previous government was particularly adept at using this argument to capture the moral high ground. That is if you don’t support our action in the Northern Territory, you must support the abuse of women and children.

I believe that this dichotomy builds policies to fail. It leads to riding rough over adequate consultation, effective participation in decision-making and proper engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This has been highlighted by both human rights experts like the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous peoples rights[15]and in the report reviewing the Intervention[16] as the crucial link missing from the Intervention for it to meets its policy goals.

Rights are universal and indivisible

I now what to talk about how a human rights paradigm offers a different way to look at these difficult polices issues. All governments have human rights obligations to protect women and children from violence and abuse. However, those obligations should be achieved without trampling on other rights. To do this, it needs to be recognised that human rights are universal and indivisible. The Social Justice Report 2006 described this point as thus:

In simple terms universality means that (rights) apply to everyone, everywhere, equally and regardless of circumstance – they are intended to reflect the essence of humanity. They are the standards of treatment that all individuals and groups, irrespective of their racial or ethnic origins, should receive for the simple reason that we are all members of the human family. They are not contingent upon any factor or characteristic being met – you do not have to ‘earn’ rights or have to be ‘deserving’ for them to be protected.

And the indivisibility of human rights means that all rights - economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights – are of equal importance. There is no hierarchy or priority for the protection or enjoyment of rights. Similarly, this means that all rights are to be applied consistently – you cannot claim to be performing an action in exercise of your rights if it causes harm or breaches the rights of another person.[17]

Simply put there is no hierarchy of human rights and all rights are interconnected. For example people talk about the right to drink alcohol. I can find no such right per se but I think people get this confused with the right to equal access to goods and services. However, if in accessing the equal right to goods and services people do consume alcohol, then the exercise of this right should not compromise the rights of others, for example the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children to be safe and secure.

How to deal with possible conflicts

Briefly I want to outline how to deal with possible conflicting rights. A human rights, and dare I say ‘best-practice’ solution seeks to ensure policies are compatible with all rights. To do this I will look an apparent clash of different human rights standards, namely cultural rights and women’s rights.

A minority of people have tried to couch sexual violence against women as being part of Aboriginal customary law. This is wrong. I am passionate about this and cannot repudiate the view that customary law justifies sexual violence strongly enough. Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children is wrong there is no justification for it.

A human rights framework recognises that across the world some traditional, religious and cultural practices have been used to justify the subordination of women and violations of their human rights. But governments are required to ensure that certain human rights, such as cultural rights, are not exercised in a manner that violates other fundamental rights, like:

  • the right to life,
  • the right to life free from torture or inhuman and degrading treatment, and
  • the requirement that men and women provide their free and informed consent when entering into marriage.

That is why Aboriginal customary law must be applied consistently with other human rights standards. At no stage does customary law override the rights of women and children to be safe and to live free from violence.

Human rights offer a holistic platform to address disadvantage

So, what I am getting at? Let me outline what I have said, and I believe this is crucial to addressing the multiple layers of disadvantage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities:

  • If we accept premise A that human rights provide a practical road map for governments to provide a framework for a better society
  • And we accept premise B that all human rights are interrelated and indivisible
  • Then governments should develop truly holistic and integrated approaches to addressing disadvantage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

This is the practical power of human rights. How can we put this into action you might ask?

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

I suggest we have to look to the standards contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the instrument that contains the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples.[18] And in essence these standards are about creating better engagement between States and Indigenous peoples.

This Declaration took over 20 years to develop with both States and Indigenous peoples being involved.

When it was adopted in 2007 an overwhelming number of States voted in favour with only four voting against. These four included Canada, New Zealand, the United States and Australia.

In 2009, Australia reversed its position. Recently, New Zealand also announced its support for the Declaration. Canada and the USA have indicated they will be looking to do the same.

Although only a declaration and therefore aspirational, this instrument is one of the most significant milestones in the protection of indigenous human rights. In one place it catalogues the human rights outlined in other binding international instruments as they apply to indigenous peoples. In that sense it is sourced from binding international law like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Declaration should inform how these obligations apply to indigenous peoples.[19]

This echoes Oodgeroo’s dream of a new dawn. Any reading of the text of the Declaration makes it clear that it offers a programmatic approach to dealing with indigenous disadvantage.[20] The Declaration should be seen as a remedial instrument, designed to rectify a history of failings when it comes to protecting indigenous peoples human rights.

The minimum standards for survival, dignity and well-being

Article 43 is a key provision in the Declaration and it states:

The rights recognized herein constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.

It is easy to miss the significance of this statement. However, when it is remembered that the Declaration was overwhelmingly adopted in the General Assembly of the United Nations, its importance becomes clear. The General Assembly is the home of Nation-States and their governments, not of academics nor human rights experts. So it was the governments of the world who stood up together in adopting this Declaration and said the rights in the Declaration are a road map not only for more equitable outcomes for indigenous peoples but for their very ‘survival, dignity and well-being’.

The key is re-setting the relationship

In following this road map, it is crucial to grasp another central tenant of the Declaration, namely the importance of re-setting relationships between indigenous peoples and the broader community but more particularly governments. In other words, better engagement. The Declaration in affirming indigenous peoples collective rights to self-determination and decision-making powers through the principle of free, prior and informed consent, is not an instrument of division, rather an instrument to create the institutional structures, arrangements and process needed for indigenous peoples to be able to effectively engage in a relationship with Governments based on mutual respect. Any doubt to this is made clear in the preamble which states the General Assembly is:

Convinced that the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples in this Declaration will enhance the harmonious and cooperative relations between the State and indigenous peoples.[21]

This acknowledgement echoes the hope of Oodgeroo ‘new rights will great us, new mates will meet us’. I believe that it is through a reform agenda borne out of and imbedded in the normative standards of human rights that we can finally embrace a true and genuine ‘mateship’ between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community. It is through agreement making as guided by the Declaration that we can achieve true and lasting reconciliation in Australia.

Now is the time for action on the Declaration

I believe that the current political climate, including the reversal of Australia’s position on the Declaration and the commitment to a new partnership, is converging with the normative developments in international human rights law and it is the Declaration that will provide the guidance to achieve government policy goals. The Australian Government has indicated, most poignantly through the National Apology that it seeks in good faith a re-setting of the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples based on partnership and mutual respect.[22]

The next step for the Australian Government is to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to develop a coordinated approach to achieving the ends of the Declaration, as is required by article 38 of the Declaration.

I believe the time has now come, in the spirit of good faith and the Australian Government’s stated commitment to re-setting the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that we begin down the path of the Declaration. We take our first steps on this human rights roadmap to equality.

I want to conclude with the words of Dr Dalee Sambo Dorough, an indigenous woman from Alaska who like Megan Davis, has recently been appointed to United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She was heavily involved in drafting and negotiating the Declaration. In a recent publication she eloquently sends out the true message and practical power of the Declaration:

Imagine the indigenous world as it was, for a moment [before colonisation]. Then think of the conditions that indigenous peoples currently face: encroachment, colonization, subjugation, exploitation, domination, leaving many of us in disarray. Now read the Declaration through from beginning to the end and dream of a world that “might someday be”.[23]

Thank you ladies and gentlemen


[1] O Noonuccal, Song of Hope (1966).
[2] National Human Rights Consultation, National Human Rights Consultation Report, (2009). At http://www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au/www/nhrcc/nhrcc.nsf/Page/Report_NationalHumanRightsConsultationReportDownloads (viewed 6 May 2010).
[3] Attorney-General’s Department, Australia’s Human Rights Framework. At http://www.ag.gov.au/www/agd/rwpattach.nsf/VAP/(3A6790B96C927794AF1031D9395C5C20)~Human+Rights+Framework.pdf/$file/Human+Rights+Framework.pdf (viewed 28 April 2010).
[4] R McCelland, Address to the National Press Club – Launch of Australia’s Human Rights Framework (Speech delivered at the National Press Club, Canberra, 21 April 2010). At http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/www/ministers/mcclelland.nsf/Page/Speeches_2010_21April2010-AddresstotheNationalPressClubofAustralia-LaunchofAustraliasHumanRightsFramework (viewed 5 May 2010).
[5] See National Human Rights Consultation, National Human Rights Consultation Report, (2009) ch 13. At http://www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au/www/nhrcc/nhrcc.nsf/Page/Report_NationalHumanRightsConsultationReportDownloads (viewed 6 May 2010).
[6] Freedom House, Country Report 2009 Australia. At http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2009&country=7559 (27 April 2010).
[7] M Dodson, ‘Forward’, in Amnesty International Australia, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples (2001) 3, p 3.
[8] See T Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2005, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, (2005) ch 2.
[9] Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 14: The right to the highest possible attainable standard of health (art 12), UN Doc: E/C.12/2000/4 (2000). At http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/40d009901358b0e2c1256915005090be?Opendocument (viewed 27 April 2010).
[10]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, opened for signature 16 December 1966, 993 UNTS 3 (entered into force 3 January 1976) art 2(1); Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 3: The nature of States parties obligations (Art. 2, par.1) UN Doc: HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 14 (1990). At http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/CESCR+General+comment+3.En?OpenDocument (viewed 27 April 2010).
[11] See T Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2008, Australian Human Rights Commission, (2009) ch 5.
[12] Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2009, Productivity Commission (2009). At http://www.pc.gov.au/gsp/ reports/indigenous/keyindicators2009 (viewed 27 April 2010).
[13] See T Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2008, Australian Human Rights Commission, (2009) ch 2.
[14] B Saul, Towards an Australian Bill of Rights: Why Politicians Have Too Much Power and Judges Too Little, (Speech delivered at 2009 Annual Castan Centre Conference: The Changing Human Rights Landscape, Melbourne, 17 July 2009. At http://www.law.monash.edu.au/castancentre/events/2009/conference-09.html (viewed 27 April 2010).
[15] Human Rights Committee, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, Addendum The situation of indigneous seoples in Australia, James Anaya, Report to the Human Rights Council 15th Session, UN Doc A/HRC/15 (4 March 2010), Appendix B. At http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/indigenous/rapporteur/docs/ReportVisitAustralia.pdf (viewed 6 May 2010).
[16] Northern Territory Emergency Response Review Board, Report of the Northern Territory Review Board, Attorney-General’s Department, Canberra (2008), pp 10-11. At http://www.nterreview.gov.au/docs/report_nter_review.PDF (viewed 28 April 2010).
[17] T Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2006, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, (2007), pp3-5. Emphasis added.
[18]United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, GA Resolution 61/295, UN Doc: A/61/L.67 (2007), article 43.
[19] See Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Concluding Observations on the United States of America, UN Doc CERD/C/USA/CO/6 (2008), para 29. At http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/CERDConcludingComments2008.pdf (viewed 20 January 2010).
[20]United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, GA Resolution 61/295, UN Doc: A/61/L.67 (2007), preambular paras 2 and 3. See also S Anaya, International Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples (Aspen Publishers, Austin, 2009).
[21]United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, GA Resolution 61/295, UN Doc: A/61/L.67 (2007), preambular para 18.
[22] Commonwealth, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 13 February 2008, p 171 (The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister).
[23] D. Sambo Dorough, ‘The Significance of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its Future Implementation’ in C Charters and R Stavenhagen, Making the Declaration Work (International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs, Denmark, 2009) 264, p 264. In this quote Dr. Sambo Dorough cites the work of M Brown, The Dream Book: First Come First Dream (Hopscotch Press, Berkeley, 1950).