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Announcement of Australia’s support of the UN Indigenous rights declaration

Posted on: 6 April, 2009
Issue: Vol 9 No 2, April 2009 - June 2009
Related to Cultural ways Policies

Australia has officially backed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, reversing the Howard Government’s vote against it in 2007. Jenny Macklin, Indigenous Affairs Minister, made a statement on Australia’s change in position on 3 April, 2009 at Parliament House, Canberra. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007, the decision to support it was part of the Rudd Government’s election promises. It follows the apology last year by Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to the stolen generations.

Ms Macklin explained that supporting the declaration is an important step towards closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. She said “we want Indigenous Australians to be partners in efforts to close the gap. For this to happen, we must recognise the unique place of Indigenous people in Australia. In supporting the declaration, Australia will join with many other countries to show our respect for Indigenous people”. She said the relationship will be “reset” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Indigenous leader Professor Mick Dodson said at the event that the next step was to now meet the standards set out in the declaration.

Australia was a key player in drafting the declaration in the 1980s and 90s but the Howard government voted against it in 2007. Australia was one of only four countries including the United States, Canada and New Zealand to do so. The declaration is not legally binding and the Government’s statement to support it could be reversed by the next Government.

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