11 November 2011


The United Nations Development Program (UNDP)has compiled rankings of 187 countries according to their wealth, education levels and life expectancy.

According to the report which was released in Copenhagen on November 2, Australia is the second best country in the world, after Norway, for gaining wealth, for learning and for health, and Australians were also rated first in non-income related measures such as life expectancy even though Aboriginal Australians live much less longer than the rest. Many of the nations ranked between 80 and 120 in the report have better life expectancies for their peoples than do Australia's Aboriginal peoples.

This disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians raises questions about federal and state government policies which according to some United Nations committees and experts smack of overt neglect, discrimination and racism.

Earlier this year United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay criticised Australia's racism towards its Aboriginal peoples, the policies that have led to government intervention into the lives of the Northern Territory's Aboriginal peoples, and the maltreatment and indefinite detention of Asylum Seekers. Mrs Pillay, a South African, compared Australia's situation with the former apartheid regime in her country.

Again earlier in the year in reviewing Australia's performance, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review both pointed to the need for an improvement in relations with Aboriginal peoples, to allow for self-determination and to remove discriminatory policies from practice. They argue that not enough is being done to reduce the disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. Subsequent Amnesty and internal government agency reports have produced a distinctively similar lament.

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