Skip to main content

Annual Report 2007-2008: Chapter 6 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice

Chapter 6
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice

Mr Tom Calma Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Social Justice Commissioner

Back to Contents


6.1 Statement from the Commissioner

Photo of Mr Tom Calma
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Mr Tom Calma
Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social
Justice Commissioner

The past year has delivered some significant and promising new developments
in indigenous affairs. the national apology to the stolen generations and the
government’s commitment to the Statement of Intent to Close the Gap in health inequality both demonstrate a growing determination to face the
challenges that confront Indigenous australians. i am pleased to say that hreoC
has had a part in these developments and continues to drive change for the
benefit of Indigenous people.

The Close the Gap campaign is something that I worked to initiate in
2005. In my Social Justice Report 2005, I set out a 25 year plan to
achieve health equality for Indigenous peoples within a generation. Last year, I
co-hosted an historic meeting of Indigenous health peak bodies, professional
associations and health experts, to advance the health equality objective. This
year at the National Indigenous Health Equality Summit in March the Australian
Government acknowledged its obligation to progressively realise some of the
fundamental rights of indigenous people by agreeing to benchmarks and targets in
health equality.

The Apology this year was an opportunity for national healing. The Apology
was some recognition of the pain, the courage and resilience of the many
thousands of people who were affected by appalling government policies which
sanctioned the forced removal of Indigenous children. HREOC had an important
part in the path to the apology. the Bringing Them Home report was a
landmark document, alerting governments and communities to the devastating
impact of these policies on Indigenous Australians.

These important developments are precursors to another development that is
unfolding at the end of this annual reporting period. During 2007 and 2008, I
worked in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU) to develop
an Issues Paper on a national representative body. issues Paper, Building a
Sustainable National Indigenous Representative Body,
examines the
effectiveness of previous representative bodies, both nationally and
internationally, and identifies key issues to consider in deciding on a new
sustainable model. The Australian Government has just recently initiated a
consultation process to seek the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people on a proposed national Indigenous representative body.

It is hoped that a representative body will give us a platform to exercise
some control over the development and direction of policies that affect us. I
have major concerns about recent developments in Indigenous policy. Significant
policy changes have been made at short notice with limited Indigenous
involvement. Most significantly, the Northern Territory (NT) intervention was
imposed upon communities through a process that treated Indigenous people as
passive recipients of policy rather than active agents for change.

The Social Justice Report 2007 was tabled in federal Parliament in
March 2008. The Social Justice Report 2007 provides a detailed analysis
of the nt intervention. It outlines some of the ways in which Indigenous people
can be the architects of policies and approaches to solve problems within our
communities. In addition, the Social Justice Report focuses on family violence
prevention. As well as looking at the extent of violence and abuse in Indigenous
communities, it documents the programs and practices implemented by Indigenous
communities to combat violence and abuse. It seeks to celebrate the success
stories that exist in our communities and presents them as practices and
approaches that can be adapted and replicated in other areas.

This year the Social Justice Unit was able to develop and deliver training to
Community Legal Education workers employed in Family Violence Prevention Legal
Services across Australia. This training focussed on up-skilling workers in
community development approaches to family violence prevention. It aimed to
ensure Indigenous Australians are informed about their legal rights, that we
know how to access assistance and that we are encouraged to report incidents of
violence and abuse. It also aimed to raise awareness amongst Indigenous
Australians about Australian law and human rights in relation to family
violence, and to clarify the relationship between Australian law and customary
law.

It was also a significant year in terms of international activity. This year
was the 7th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and
the first since the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples
. Federal government funding assisted the attendance of 40
Indigenous delegates to the UNPFII. The themes for the session were climate
change as well as Indigenous issues in the Pacific region. Climate change poses
a significant risk to Indigenous peoples globally and it is an issue that I will
cover in my forthcoming Native Title Report 2008.

Over the coming 12 months I will continue to work with governments,
Indigenous organisations, communities and many other groups, on practical
research and consultation projects. I will:

  • work with stakeholders and governments to set targets to ‘Close
    the Gap’ in indigenous health inequality;
  • continue to work with Indigenous communities and organisations to
    provide human rights education on issues such as customary law and family
    violence;
  • develop options for remote Indigenous education, now and into the
    future, in partnership with key groups;
  • continue to monitor the effects of the NT intervention;
  • monitor and provide analysis of native title and land rights in
    Australia; and
  • follow up on the issues and recommendations in this year’s Social Justice Report and Native Title Report.

Top | Contents

6.2 Monitoringand Reporting

The Social Justice Commissioner produces two reports annually on the human
rights situation faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: the Social Justice Report and Native Title Report. These provide an
annual state-of-the-nation review of progress on Indigenous policy and human
rights compliance.

Top | Contents

6.2.1 Social Justice Report 2007

Under section 46C(1)(a) of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Act, the Commissioner is required to submit a report annually to the
Attorney-General on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights by Aboriginal
persons and Torres Strait Islanders (the Social Justice Report).

The Report analyses the major changes and challenges in Indigenous affairs
over the past year. It also includes recommendations to government that promote
and protect the rights of Indigenous Australians.

The Social Justice Report 2007 was transmitted to the Attorney-General
on11 February 2008 and tabled in the House of Representatives on 20 March 2008.
The report was officially launched on 31 March 2008 in Sydney at an event open
to the media and the general community.

The Social Justice Report 2007 focuses on the NT Intervention and the
issues related to family violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities. In
terms of violence and abuse in Indigenous communities, it reports on the
patterns and extent of the problems and it puts forth potential solutions and
examples of ‘promising practice’ in addressing violence and abuse.
The Report outlines nineteen examples of community programs which have had
success in using a range of approaches to respond to family violence.

In addition to family violence, the Social Justice Report 2007 provides analysis of the northern territory intervention of 2007. the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 is assessed in
terms of its compliance with human rights standards. The Report identifies that
the NT legislation is inappropriately classified as a ‘special
measure’. This classification was made because not all of the provisions
of the legislation are necessarily beneficial to Indigenous people and a number
of

Photo at the Social Justice 07 launch
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Graeme Neate, President of the National Native
Title Tribunal, Professor Marcia langton from
the
University of Melbourne, Ron Merkel QC,
Barrister-at-Law and Brian Wyatt, Chair
of the National Native Title Council
discussed Whereto Native Title: How
can the system deliver?

at the launch
of
the Social Justice Report 2007

the provisions are racially discriminatory. The Report is critical of the
removal of anti-discrimination protections for Indigenous people through the
removal of the application of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
and the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Act.

The report outlines a Ten Point Action Plan to modify the NT Intervention so
that it respects the human rights of Indigenous people and complies with
fundamental rights to racial equality. The Report argues that it is vital that
all measures to address family violence and child abuse should themselves
respect human rights.
The Social Justice Report 2007, a community
guide, a media kit and other information are available on-line at
www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/sj_report/sjreport07

Top | Contents

6.2.2 native title report 2007

Under section 209 of the Native Title Act (Cth), the Commissioner is required
to submit a report annually to the Attorney-General on the operation of the
Native Title Act and the effect of the Act on the exercise and enjoyment of
human rights of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders (the Native
Title Report)
.

The Native Title Report 2007 was transmitted to the Attorney-General
on 15 February 2008 and tabled in Parliament on 20 March 2008.

This year’s report was dedicated to the memory of Eddie (Koiki) Mabo,
commemorating 15 years since the landmark decision of the High Court in Mabo
v State of Queensland (No 2)
[1992] 175 CLR 1 which recognised Eddie
Mabo’s native title rights and interests in his land, and which prompted
the government to pass the Native Title Act.

In the year of the 15th anniversary of native title, the Native Title
Report 2007
focused on the current operation of native title and recent
changes to the system from the perspective of the original objectives and intent
of Parliament in enacting the Native Title Act.

Overall, the Commissioner found that:

Despite the successes of the system, I am concerned that the native title
system is not delivering substantial recognition and protection of native title.
The operation of the Native Title Act, and the system set up under it, are
essentially not fulfilling the objects of the Act in accordance with the reasons
the Australian Parliament passed the legislation. These reasons are set out in
the preamble to the Native Title Act. The result is that Indigenous people are
not able to fully exercise and enjoy human rights.

In detail, the Report considers the changes made to the legislative and
administrative framework for native title in the 2006-07 year, and the effect
these changes have had (or may have) on native title and the realisation of the
human rights of Aboriginal peoples and torres Strait islanders.

The native title cases heard by the Federal Court during 2006-07 exemplify
just how far removed the reality of today’s native title system is from
the intention of the Australian Parliament in passing the Native Title Act.
These cases highlight the hurdles faced by Indigenous peoples trying to use the
native title system to gain recognition of their rights to country. The Native Title Report 2007 discusses the main issues the cases highlight,
including:

  1. difficulties in obtaining compensation for extinguishment of native
    title;
  2. constraints imposed by the treatment of evidence and the rules of
    evidence;
  3. problems arising from the common law’s interpretation of the
    definition of native title in section 223 of the Native Title Act;
  4. the inconsistencies between Australia’s human rights obligations and
    the practical outcomes of the native title system.

Nonetheless, there are still cases where economic opportunities arise, or
could possibly arise, out of indigenous land rights or native title. the Native Title Report 2007 continues the focus of previous Native Title
reports on economic development opportunities.

The Report considers whether the native title system recognises commercial
fishing rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Although the Native
Title Act does not preclude the possibility that native title rights and
interests may be commercial in nature, there appears to be a hesitation by the
courts and governments to recognise such rights as traditional. The
justifications for such an approach are not convincing and the result is
inconsistent with the federal government’s policy of Indigenous economic
development.

The Report also includes a case study on the Western Arnhem Land Fire
Abatement Project
(WALFA), a project which combines economic opportunities
on Indigenous land with the national priority of climate change. The Project has
the potential to deliver across the quadruple bottom line of environmental,
economic, social and cultural outcomes, and the initiative will showcase the
important role that Indigenous peoples can have in climate change mitigation in
Australia.

The Report contains 25 recommendations that arise from the discussions in the
chapter. There are two overarching recommendations that consider the native
title system as a whole. Recommendation 1.1 deals with unscrambling the
legislative gridlock in native title, recommending an independent comprehensive
review of the whole native title system. The review would include significant
stakeholder participation and focus on delivering the objects of the Native
Title Act in accordance with the preamble. Recommendation 1.2 proposes a
national summit on the native title system with extensive representation.

The Native Title Report 2007, fact sheets and media release are
available on-line at
www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/nt_report/ntreport07/index.html.

Photo of the participants in the Indigenous Community Legal Education Project
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Participants in the Indigenous Community Legal
Education Project for Family Violence Services
pose with Ray Martin, who MC'd the launch of
the Native Title Report 2007. This year's Report
was dedicated to the memory of Eddie (Koiki)
Mabo, commemorating 10 years since the
High Court's Mabo decision

Top | Contents

6.2.3 Community Guide and CD-Rom

Two types of community guide were printed and made available on the HREOC
website. The first was a community guide to the Native Title Report 2007 and Social Justice Report 2007, and the second, entitled Communities Confronting Family Violence; Promising Practices and Valuable
Lessons
, outlines seven case studies of successful responses to family
violence.

The reports, community guide, media summaries and other materials, have also
been made available on a CD-Rom.

Top | Contents

6.3 RESEARCH AND POLICY

The Social Justice Commissioner advocates for the recognition of the rights
of Indigenous Australians and seeks to promote respect and understanding of
these rights among the broader Australian community.

Top | Contents

6.3.1 Issues Paper on a National Indigenous Representative Body

The Commissioner prepared an Issues Paper outlining key considerations in the
development of a new national Indigenous representative body. The research was
undertaken as a follow up action to the Social Justice Report 2006, which
identified a need to identify sustainable options for establishing a national
Indigenous representative body. HREOC commissioned the National Centre for
Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University to provide a research
paper, and used this research to develop the paper: Building a Sustainable
National Indigenous Representative Body.

The paper addresses the following three questions:

  • First, what lessons can be learned from mechanisms for representing
    aboriginal and torres Strait islander peoples at the national, state and
    territory or regional level that have previously existed or that are currently
    in place?
  • Second, what lessons can be learned from mechanisms for representing
    indigenous peoples that have been established in other countries?
  • And third, what options are there for ensuring that a National
    Indigenous Representative Body is sustainable?

The paper identifies the many and varied issues that need to be considered in
the formulation of a new representative body. It is complete and ready for
release on12 July 2008.

Top | Contents

6.3.2 Apology to the Stolen Generations

The Commissioner was invited by the government to facilitate two national
meetings of stolen generations organisations on the content, timing and delivery
of the apology. These took place in January and February 2008 in Canberra.

Top | Contents

6.3.3 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples
on 13 September 2007, HREOC has been advocating
for recognition of the Declaration by the Australian Government. Australia and
New Zealand were among four countries that voted against the text.

On 30 October 2007, HREOC staff attended a roundtable meeting, hosted by the
New Zealand Human Rights Commission in Wellington, to consider the domestic
implementation of the Declaration in Australia and New Zealand.

Top | Contents

6.3.4 HREOC Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional affairs
Committee on the northern territory National Emergency Plan

on 10 august 2007, the Commissioner and the President presented the hreoC
Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, setting out
the human rights concerns regarding the Northern Territory National Emergency
Plan. The submission stressed that any measures must comply with the fundamental
right to racial equality, and should not be exempt from the Racial
Discrimination Act 1975
(Cth), as they currently are. The measures clearly
have specific impact on Indigenous peoples and must therefore be ‘special
measures’ for their benefit.

HREOC’s submission recommended that:

  • extensive consultation backed up with effective and culturally
    appropriate information campaigns occur as a matter of urgency;
  • an independent and public parliamentary review be conducted after 12
    months to ensure that the goals of the proposed legislation are achieved in a
    manner that is consistent with human rights; and
  • immediate steps should be taken to put in place an effective
    monitoring mechanism that involves Indigenous peoples.

The submission also highlighted the need for community education on human
rights. The Commissioner expanded on this point during the public hearing of the
Senate Committee.

The committee adopted HREOC’s recommendations that:

  • a ‘culturally appropriate public information campaign be
    conducted as soon as possible’;
  • there be continuous monitoring and public reporting on the operation
    of the measures throughout the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage reporting
    framework;
  • there be a review of the legislation after two years of
    implementation; and
  • the Commonwealth provide additional funding for drug and alcohol
    rehabilitation services in the Northern Territory.

The government agreed to implement all seven recommendations by
administrative decision (not through legislative amendment).

Top | Contents

6.3.5 HREOC Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional affairs
Committee on the inquiry into the Stolen Generation Compensation Bill 2008

On 9 April 2008, HREOC presented a submission to the Senate Legal and
Constitutional affairs Committee regarding the Committee’s inquiry into
the Stolen Generations Compensation Bill 2008. on 16 april 2008, hreoC staff
gave evidence before the Inquiry. The submission commended the passage of the
Stolen Generations Compensation Bill 2008, and stressed that a national
compensation scheme to make financial reparations to the Stolen Generations is
long overdue.

In the submission, HREOC put forward that:

  • Loss, grief and trauma experienced by the victims of gross human
    rights violations can never be adequately compensated. However, for many victims
    compensation can make a practical difference and improve the lives of
    communities and individuals. It is incumbent upon government to address the
    physical and psychological experiences of the Stolen Generations in a way that
    recognises and validates trauma if the process of healing is to be executed
    effectively.
  • For many people, redress through the court system takes a significant
    toll on individuals, and may revisit their trauma. furthermore, litigation
    brought by members of the stolen generations will often have a number of inbuilt
    barriers to success, such as lack of availability of critical evidence,
    difficulties in establishing the required onus of proof with the passage of
    time; the prejudice to the defendant given the frailty, illness and death of key
    witnesses, and the loss and or destruction of records and material
    documents.
  • It is HREOC’s position that a reparations tribunal will provide
    the stolen generations with a welcome alternative to seeking compensation
    through court processes. HREOC supports the model proposed in the Bill to
    develop a system of ex gratia payments for common experiences suffered by
    members of the Stolen Generations. Such a system would provide a swifter, more
    appropriate and less damaging alternative to court processes.
  • HREOC recommends that the Commonwealth, through the Councils of
    Australian Governments (COAG), engage with state and territory governments to
    develop a nationally consistent approach with joint funding mechanisms in the
    provision of financial redress for the stolen generations. This is to ensure
    compensation schemes are applied universally to all members of the stolen
    generations and can ensure consistency in outcomes so that some individuals are
    not disadvantaged.

In the submission, HREOC urged the Committee to recognise the importance of
compensation to achieving just outcomes for Indigenous people who, because of
past government practices, have been deprived of community ties, culture and
language, and links with and entitlements to their traditional land.

Top | Contents

6.4 EDUCATION AND PROMOTION

6.4.1 Indigenous Community Legal Education Project

In 2007, the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department funded HREOC to
develop and deliver an Indigenous Community Legal Education project. The project
was to implement the National Framework of Principles for preventing family
violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities as outlined in the
Intergovernmental Summit on Violence and Child Abuse in Indigenous Communities,
and the COAG Communiqué of July 2006.

HREOC trained 13 Community Legal Education (CLE) workers in preparation for
their role in educating remote Indigenous communities about the relationship
between Australian law, customary law and human rights. The training program was
a full curriculum and mapped to accredited training (the Diploma in National
Indigenous

Legal Advocacy). HREOC delivered 40 hours of training commencing on Thursday
27 March and concluding on Wednesday 2 April 2008.

The participants are now employed by the Attorney-General’s Department
as Community Legal Education Workers in regional and remote Family Violence
Prevention Legal Services. A preliminary evaluation of the CLE training
indicated a high level of participant satisfaction with the content and the
methodologies of the training program.

In May, June and July HREOC evaluated the appropriateness of the training to
meet the needs of the Community Legal Educators.

Top | Contents

6.4.2 Re-accreditation of the National Indigenous Legal Advocacy courses

HREOC is the copyright holder of three National Indigenous Legal Advocacy
courses – the Certificate III, Certificate IV and the Diploma courses. In
2008 these courses were re-accredited for a five year period. The National
Indigenous Legal Advocacy courses are still the only courses in Australia that
provide training for Indigenous legal advocates.

The courses were developed in response to a recommendation of the 1991 Royal
Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody which identified a gap in training
for Indigenous people who intend to work in a paralegal capacity. The courses
have evolved and been updated since the 1990s. They aim to prepare Indigenous
trainees for employment as legal advocates and to provide pathways into other
employment, law degrees, or related higher education.

Top | Contents

6.4.3 Indigenous Health Equality

The National Indigenous Health Equality Summit was held in Canberra from
18-20March 2008. It was an important milestone in the National Indigenous Health
Equality Campaign which began in 2006 following the release of the Social
Justice Report 2005
.

At the summit, the Indigenous Health Equality Targets were presented to a
range of invited delegates, including Australian Government representatives, for
comments and feedback. In addition, the Commonwealth Government and the
opposition were invited to formally re-commit to achieving Indigenous health
equality within a generation. they did this by signing the Statement of
Intent to
Close the Gap. The Statement was signed by the Prime
Minister, the Ministers for Health and indigenous affairs, the opposition
leader, ian thorpe, Cathy freeman, and every major Indigenous and non-Indigenous
health peak body.

At the Summit, the Prime Minister announced that the National Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Health Council would be reformulated as an Indigenous
Health Equality Council, with a primary role to implement the targets and
benchmarks. This new Council provides an opportunity to embed the targets into
policy and practice nationally. After the Summit, a table of targets and a
summary outline was created and presented to the Commonwealth Government for
integration into the COAG Working Group processes.
The Steering Committee of
the campaign continues to work with COAG and Australian Governments to progress
the adoption of the targets, and their integration into the National Strategic
Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and the accompanying
Performance Framework. In addition, the targets will be integrated into the
reporting of the Productivity Commission’s Overcoming Indigenous
Disadvantage
report.

Photo of Rudd signing the Statement of Intent to Close the Gap
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Dr Mick Adams from the National Aboriginal
Community Controlled Health Organisation
witnesses the Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd,
sign the Statement of Intent to Close the Gap at,
the National Indigenous Health Equality Summit in
Canberra

Top | Contents

6.4.4 Bringing Them Home 10th anniversary

On 30 September 2007, HREOC co-hosted a commemorative conference with the
University of New South Wales for the 10th anniversary of the Bringing Them
Home
Report.

The conference was attended by approximately 100 people and received good
media coverage. The conference proceedings were recorded by ABC Radio National
and subsequently nationally broadcast in an edited form.
Us Taken-Away
Kids,
the commemorative magazine for the 10th anniversary, was launched on
11 December 2007 and is available on the HREOC website. The magazine represents
artwork and stories from members of the stolen generations throughout
Australia.

Top | Contents

6.5 LEGISLATIVE DEVELOPMENT

The Social Justice and Native Title Units
contribute to legislative development by making written and oral submission to
parliamentary and other inquiries. A list of these submissions can be found in
Chapter 3 of this report, Monitoring Human Rights.

Top | Contents

Photo at the launch of Us Taken-Away Kids
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Minister for Families, Housing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs, The Hon. Jenny
Maacklin, talks with Alfred Coolwell, his sister, Lena
Yarry and Reconciliation Australia's Jason Glanville
at the launch of Us Taken-Away Kids. See 6.4.4

6.5.1 draft guidelines for parties and representatives in National Native
Title Tribunal mediation

The Commissioner provided comments on an Exposure Draft of Best Practice
Guidelines for parties and representatives in mediation. The Draft Guidelines
were prepared in accordance with the government’s acceptance of
recommendations put forward by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee,
relevant to the Native Title Amendment (Provisions) Bill 2006. The
recommendations provide that the Native Title Act 1993 be amended to
require parties to mediate in good faith, and that a code of conduct for parties
involved in native title mediation be developed.

The Attorney-General’s Department amended the guidelines in
consideration of a number of HREOC’s comments, including:

  • that cultural considerations, such as gender and hierarchy of elders,
    must be taken into account regarding effective communication;
  • that, due to a range of variable factors, it is not always possible
    to obtain the necessary instructions by the set timelines or before mediation;
    and
  • the need to sort out ‘minor matters’ quickly (the
    criteria regarding ‘minor matters’ was removed from the guidelines
    altogether).

The guidelines were also redrafted into a format that includes clear simple
headings and mostly uses plain English throughout. In addition, references to
legislation have been removed from the text and included in footnotes.

The Attorney-General’s Department conducted a second round of
consultations to a wider group, including Indigenous stakeholders. While the
redrafted guidelines addressed a number of HREOC’s concerns, including the
need to respect Indigenous customs and practices, the redrafted guidelines did
not fully address the concerns raised.

The Commissioner contributed comments on the amended second round draft
guidelines, including comments that:

  • parties to mediation should respect and make allowance for the
    inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural protocols and
    decision making practices in the mediation process;
  • to give effect to the principle of free, prior, and informed consent,
    effective communication mechanisms must be an underlying assurance of the
    guidelines, and parties should identify from the outset what specific
    communication needs will be required to develop an effective communication
    strategy that meets the needs of all parties included in mediation; and
  • parties should abide by the communication strategy developed in
    preparation for the mediation and consider different levels of understanding
    held by the parties attending the mediation.

Top | Contents

6.5.2 Draft Guidelines for the Support of Prescribed Bodies Corporate

On 17 May 2007, the Land Branch of the Department of Families, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs invited comments on the draft Guidelines for the
Support of Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBC).

These guidelines related specifically to amendments to the general terms and
conditions relating to Native Title Program Funding Agreements. These agreements
enable Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs) and Native Title Service
Providers to assist PBCs with their day-to-day operations. The Commissioner
provided ten recommendations regarding the draft guidelines.

Top | Contents

6.6 INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES

6.6.1 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

The seventh session of the UNPFII took place in New york from 19 April
– 2 May 2008. The session was the first since the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The themes for the
session were climate change and Indigenous peoples, and Indigenous issues in the
Pacific region.

Funding was made available from the Australian Government to facilitate
participation at the UNPFII by Indigenous delegates. HREOC administers this
funding and granted assistance to delegates from a number of Indigenous
organisations. Up to 40 Indigenous delegates from Australia attended.

The Commissioner presented at three events at the Permanent Forum as follows:

  • a formal presentation to the Forum as an expert for Agenda Item 6,
    Half Day Discussion on the Pacific;
  • a roundtable discussion on ‘Indigenous Peoples and the private
    sector and the issue of Indigenous entrepreneurship and how it is supported on
    the local, regional and global fora’; and
  • panel discussion on ‘Managing Indigenous Local Governments:
    balancing traditions with emerging challenges’.

Top | Contents

6.7 Speeches

A selection of public addresses made by the Social Justice Commissioner
during 2007-08 is listed below. Speeches can also be accessed on HREOC’s
websites at
www.humanrights.gov.au/about/media/speeches/social_justice/index.html

Continuity and Change through New Arrangements – Lessons for
Addressing the Crisis of Child Sexual Abuse in the Northern Territory,
launch of the Social Justice and Native Title reports, Sydney, 3 July
2007.

National Press Club address, National Press Club, Canberra, 4 July
2007.

Human Rights and Mining, mining, Petroleum, oil and Gas Symposium,
Broome, WA, 10 July 2007.

The Right to Health of Indigenous Australians, Inaugural course on
Health Development and Human Rights, Sydney, 16 July 2007.

The ’67 Referendum: 40 Years On and the Federal Government’s
Northern Territory Plan – Where to Now?
The ’67 Referendum
– Forty years on Conference, Sydney, 20 July 2007.

The Role and Functions of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission,
Aboriginal Legal Service Annual Conference, Sydney, 1 August
2007.

Proactive Engagement with the Native Title System, ntrB Ceo and Senior
Management dinner, Sydney, 1 2007.

Indigenous Health: Real Solutions for a Chronic Problem – Indigenous
Social and Emotional Health and Well Being,
9th annual Garma festival of
traditional Culture, nhulunbuy, nt, 6 august 2007.

2007: Delivering on the Promise of the 1967 Referendum for Indigenous
Australians,
Hyllus Marius Memorial Lecture, Melbourne, 21 August 2007.

40 Years On: What Does the ‘Yes’ Vote Mean for Indigenous
Australians?
Tasmanian Annual Social Justice Lecture, Hobart, 22 August
2007.

Indigenous Health Inequality in Australia: What Can Medical Professionals
Do to Make a Difference?
National Leadership Seminar hosted by the
Australian Medical Students Association, Canberra, 10 September 2007.

The Evidence Base for Interventions into Indigenous Public Health, Indigenous Health Forum, Canberra, 12 September 2007.

Legal Wins/Losses since the Referendum and Future Challenges for
Indigenous Peoples,
2nd National Indigenous Legal Conference, Brisbane, 14
September 2007.

photo of 2 indigenous children
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Children blow bubbles at the GARMA festival of
Traditional Culture at Nhulunbuy, NT

The Campaign for Indigenous Health Equality Within a Generation, address to South australian department of Premier and Cabinet, adelaide, 18
September 2007.

Can the End Ever Justify the Means? Achieving Equality for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the Northern Territory Intervention,
Don
Dunstan Annual Oration, Adelaide, 18 September 2007.

Indigenous Children Belong on the Asset Side of Australia’s Wealth
Ledger,
Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC)
National Conference, Adelaide, 19 September 2007.

The Indigenous Health Curriculum in Australian Medical Schools, Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education conference, Sydney, 23 September
2007.

Australian Government Responses to the Bringing Them Home Report, Ten
years Later: Bringing them home and the forced removal of children conference,
Sydney, 28 September 2007.

National Strategies that Impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Health,
4th National Indigenous Male Health Convention, Adelaide, 1 October
2007.

Where We Are Now and Where We Need to Be? Australians for Native Title
and Reconciliation National Congress, Canberra, 13 October 2007.

Indigenous Home Ownership, Which Way? Directions in Indigenous Housing
Conference, Alice Springs, 27 October 2007.

Health and Human Rights, Kimberley Aboriginal Health Summit, Broome,
WA, 31 October 2007.

What Does a Human Rights Approach Offer in Improving the Health of
Indigenous Australians?,
Menzies School of Health Research Oration, Darwin,
8 November 2007.

Indigenous Health, Ed Health Conference, Terrigal, NSW, 16 November
2007.

The Role of Local Government in Achieving Social Justice for Aboriginal
Peoples in the Northern Territory,
Local Government Association of Northern
Territory Annual General Meeting, Darwin, 22 November 2007.

Human Rights, Indigenous Rights and the Australian Context, World
Psychiatric Association Congress, Melbourne, 29 November 2007.

Indigenous Policy Address, Local Government and Discrete Indigenous
Communities Conference, Perth, 5 December 2007.

Essentials for Social Justice: Sorry, launch of Us Taken-Away Kids,
Sydney, 11 December 2007.

The Role of Social Workers as Human Rights Workers with Indigenous People
and Communities,
Social Work Orientation Week Seminar, Canberra, 12 february
2008.

Response to Government to the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, Canberra, 13 February 2008.

Essentials for Social Justice: Reform, australians for native title
and Reconciliation Annual General Meeting, Brisbane, 20 February 2008.

Opening Remarks, National Indigenous Health Equality Summit, Canberra,
18 March 2008.

Essentials for Social Justice: Protecting Indigenous Children, Social
Justice Report 2007 launch, Sydney, 31 March 2008.

Valuing and Protecting Diversity, Department of Finance and
Deregulation, Canberra, 9 April 2008.

Half Day Discussion on the Pacific: Panel Statement, United Nations
Permanent Forum, New york City, USA, 23 April 2008.

The Importance of Environmental Health in Improving the Life Expectancy of
Indigenous Peoples,
speech delivered by Paul Endres on behalf of the
Commissioner, International Federation of Environmental Health World Congress,
Brisbane, 13 May 2008.

Social Justice, HREOC and Indigenous Education, National Education
forum General meeting, Canberra, 17 may 2008.

Australia’s Mineral Industry in Context – Nationally and
Internationally
, Mineral Council’s Conference, Canberra, 27 May
2008.

Our Children Our Future, launch of Our Children Our Future report, Sydney, 28 May 2008.

Sustainable Options for Australia’s New National Indigenous
Representative Body,
National Native Title Conference, Perth, 4 June
2008.

Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples, speech delivered by Warwick
Baird on behalf of the Commissioner, National Native Title Conference, Perth, 5
June 2008.

Essentials for Social Justice: Close the Gap, Collaborative Indigenous
Policy Development, Sydney, 11 June 2008.

Reforming Federal Indigenous Affairs Policy, Mornington Peninsula
Human Rights Group, Mornington, Victoria, 24 June 2008.

photo of Tom Calma at the National Press Club
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Commisioner Calma speaks with participants at
the National Press Club, Canberra, where he gave
an address on 4 July 2007

Top | Contents