21 August 2009


Groups of church leaders, religious and lay people in Australia that have been closely following the issues associated with the Northern Territory Intervention are writing to the United Nations' special rapporteur on indigenous human rights Professor James Anaya to ask for his support to ensure that the Racial Discrimination Act will be reinstated in the Northern Territory but, most importantly, reinstated so that it is consistent with Human Rights.

Speaking soon after his arrival to commence his 11 day visit in Australia Professor Anaya expressed the opinion that there is a prima facie case that suspending the Racial Discrimination Act is discriminatory, but he is yet to make up his mind that if doing so is in the best interests of Australia's indigenous people.

The Racial Discrimination Act was suspended in the NT by the former Howard government so the intervention's more extreme measures, such as quarantining welfare payments, could be rolled out.

Included in the letter to Professor Anaya is a restatement of the views expressed by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC) in June 2009 which said:-
“As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians, representing many different denominations and backgrounds, we are united against the NT Intervention in its current form” and ask government to, ‘Recognise the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to negotiate agreements with governments. We stress negotiation as distinct from consulting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples about the implementation of policy and programs which have already been already been developed and decided on”.

The full text of the letter to the special rapporteur may be found at the Social Policy Connections website.

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