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Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders peoples

Learning from crisis

Six weeks ago I returned to my traditional homeland near Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia. Thanks to modern technology, I am working remotely and continuing my duties as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

Like many Aboriginal people, I chose to return to Country because COVID-19 travel restrictions made homeland communities the safest place to see out the pandemic. As a mature Aboriginal woman, I am statistically at greater risk from COVID-19. It was important to follow the advice of health experts.

Commissioner tells women they are greatest agents for change

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar has told Australia’s female leaders they are the greatest agents for change and empowerment in this country.

Speaking at the Chief Executive Women’s annual dinner on 19 September, Commissioner Oscar drew on her own experience as a leader in the outback town of Fitzroy Crossing, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

‘We want our voices heard in Parliament’: Garma 2017

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar has told Garma 2017 she is convinced the proposal to enshrine an Indigenous voice to Parliament would address the powerlessness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have sought greater control over our destinies, for the ability to live freely and equally, and for greater recognition of our rights as the First Peoples of this land since the arrival of the British on our shores in 1788. 

Cultural strength is key to suicide prevention

The worst response to suicide within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is to ignore social disadvantage and instead attribute the loss of life to individual failure or weakness.

“Addressing the social disadvantage plaguing our communities is critical to solving many of the challenges facing our peoples, including suicide.

“Our nation must face up to the devastation that has been wrought upon our peoples and which overwhelms us today,” according to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar.

Joint statement of support for constitutional reform

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocates and supporters for constitutional reform met at the Australian Human Rights Commission on 24 July to declare their support for a First Nations’ voice to Parliament.

The meeting was convened by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar and Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia, Professor Tom Calma.

‘We cannot deny the rightful place of Australia’s First Peoples’

Constitutional reform and zero tolerance for racism would help build a nation that recognises the rightful place of Australia's First Peoples, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar has told the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law.

Speaking at a Castan Centre conference on 21 July, Commissioner Oscar said “we cannot continue to deny the rightful place of Australia’s First Peoples in this country.”

Have courage. We can’t wait another 50 years to be heard: Commissioner Oscar delivers historic Mabo Lecture

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar has delivered a landmark speech linking Constitutional reform and a treaty with Australia’s First Peoples to the “unfinished business of the 1967 Referendum and the Mabo decision.”

Australians should not be unsettled by the idea of a treaty, the Commissioner said, because we already have more than 1,000 treaties in the form of Indigenous Land Use Agreements.

Australia’s human rights bodies tell political leaders: Uluru Statement ‘cannot be ignored’

Australia’s federal, state and territory human rights bodies have urged political leaders to work across party lines to deliver Constitutional reform for Australia’s First Peoples.

In a joint letter, the Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities (ACHRA) says the Uluru Statement from the Heart (pdf) “cannot be ignored”.

Uluru Statement calls for First Nations’ voice in the constitution

To resounding applause, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates from across the country have agreed to a landmark Uluru Statement calling for the establishment of a First Nations’ voice enshrined in the constitution.

"We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart.

"Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs.

Uluru Convention ‘an historic opportunity for change’

“We gather from the furthest corners of this country to discuss a matter of great importance: how we, as the First Peoples of this country, stand in Australia’s founding legal document – the Constitution.”

In her opening remarks to the Uluru National Convention, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar, described this week’s gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as an historic opportunity for change.