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Clark demands action on a Bill of Rights.



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Clark Demands Action on a Bill of Rights

 

9 August 2000

 

A Bill of Rights should be put in place immediately to secure a future for Australia’s Indigenous peoples.

On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous People I remind all Australian governments that open dialogue should occur with Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders on the introduction of a Bill of Rights.

The theme of this year’s United Nations sponsored Day is “Indigenous Children and Youth”. There is no better means of securing their futures than legal protection of their rights to self-determination, cultural identity and land.

The absence of a Bill or Rights leaves Australia lagging well behind other major Western democracies such as the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

The Australian Constitution is outdated and irrelevant. There is no explicit protection of human, civil or political rights for any Australian let alone the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Indigenous Australians.

Formal legal recognition of the collective and individual rights of Indigenous people is absolutely necessary to ensure we can maintain and develop our culture, our languages and our relationship with our land, sea and resources.

This must be guaranteed in law.

A Bill of Rights must enshrine our rights to self-determination. By exercising our political, economic and social rights we can address basic needs such as health, education, housing and employment.

As we move towards the Centenary of Federation in 2001 it is imperative that we look at ways to improve the legal and government institutions in Australia and make them more relevant to a 21st Century nation.

A Bill of Rights would be a major step towards development of a modern and fairer country where all peoples have equal political rights and human rights. Every person can then be safe in the knowledge their human, legal and political rights are

immutable.

Geoff Clark ATSIC Chairman 9 August 2000

Further information: Paul Molloy 0419 690 926 ATSIC National Media and Marketing

 

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