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2008 Face the Facts - Copyright

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Comes from the Latin term ‘ab origine’ which means ‘from the beginning’ and refers to the original
inhabitants of a particular place.
In Australia, an Aboriginal person is
someone who is of Aboriginal descent, identifies as an Aboriginal person and is
accepted as an Aboriginal person by the community in which he or she lives.

The process of absorbing or being absorbed into a
group or system so that elements are the same. In Australia during the 20th
Century, policies of ‘assimilation’ sought to make Aboriginal people
and migrants the same as ‘mainstream’ Australian society.

Asylum seeker
A person who requests protection in another country
from persecution and recognition of his or her status as a refugee.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC)
was Australia's national representative Indigenous organisation. ATSIC advised
governments on Indigenous issues, advocated for Indigenous people at the local,
regional, national and international levels and monitored how other government
agencies provide services to their Indigenous clients. ATSIC ceased to exist
from midnight 23 March 2005. ATSIC's functions were transferred to mainstream
government agencies.

Until 2003, ATSIC was responsible for administering
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and making individual funding
decisions. From 1 July 2003, this function was transferred to a new Executive
Agency, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (ATSIS). ATSIS was
also abolished by the Government in March 2005, and its functions transferred to
mainstream government agencies.

Citizenship Testing
The test was introduced in 2007 and requires
those seeking Australian citizenship to have a basic understanding of English
and an adequate knowledge of Australia and Australian values.

Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989
The United
Nations Convention which sets out the way all human rights (including civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights) should be protected for
children and young people. Australia adopted the Convention in 1990.

Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 (Refugee

The Convention relating to the Status of Refugees defines who is a refugee, specifies their rights and outlines the legal
obligations of member states towards refugees.

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment 1987

The Convention defines 'torture'
as an act perpetrated by or with the approval of government officials which is
designed to inflict extreme physical and/or psychological suffering for a
purpose such as extracting information. Member states must prosecute or
extradite alleged torturers. Australia adopted CAT in 1989.

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007
United Nations resolution setting out how existing human rights apply to the
situation of indigenous peoples around the world. It covers, civil and political
rights, economic, social and cultural rights as well as some collective

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Excised off-shore places
Parts of Australian territory which have
been removed from Australia's migration zone: Ashmore and Cartier Islands,
Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island as well as various other off-shore sea
and resource installations.

Family Stream migrants
A visa category which allows people to
migrate to Australia on the basis of their relationship with a sponsor who is a
close family member and an Australian resident or citizen. Most Family Stream
Migrants are the spouses or fiancés of Australian residents or

Humanitarian Program
The part of Australia's permanent immigration
program under which refugees and other people who need humanitarian assistance
can apply to come to or stay in Australia on a permanent or long-term basis.

A person who moves to another country with the intention
of settling there permanently.

Immigration detention
The Commonwealth Government have announced a
change in immigration detention policy. Details of the new policy will be
forthcoming. Under the old policy people who are not Australian citizens and who
do not hold a valid visa must be detained. While the law applies to people who
overstay their visas and to people whose visas have been cancelled, the biggest
group in immigration detention are asylum seekers who arrived in Australia
without a valid visa.

Indigenous peoples
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
are referred to as Indigenous peoples. The use of the term
‘indigenous’ acknowledges a particular relationship of aboriginal
people to the territory from which they originate. Using the plural
‘peoples’ acknowledges collective, rather than purely individual
dimension of their lives.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 (ICCPR)
This Covenant translates the civil and political rights outlined
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 into firm obligations
undertaken by member states. It covers the rights to equality before the law and
to freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention, among others, prohibits torture
and slavery and restricts use of the death penalty. Australia adopted the ICCPR
in 1980.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

This Covenant translates the economic, social and cultural
rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 into
obligations undertaken by member states. It requires member states to
progressively realise rights such as free education, highest attainable standard
of health, rights to work and fair conditions at work and rights to access

International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial
Discrimination 1965

This convention outlines the obligations
that member states have in eliminating racial discrimination. It states the
non-discriminatory nature of human rights and the right to equality before the
law. Australia ratified CERD in 1975 with the enactment of the Racial
Discrimination Act 1975

Land rights
In a land rights claim, Indigenous Australians seek
legal ownership of land from Commonwealth, state or territory governments. Land
rights legislation was adopted in several states and the Northern Territory
before native title was recognised by the common law in the Mabo Case.

Mabo Case
A landmark legal case in which Eddie Mabo, together with
four other Meriam people from the Murray Islands in the Torres Strait, proved
they had native title rights to their land. There were two High Court decisions
in this case.
Mabo (No.1) (1988) invalidated Queensland legislation
which sought to remove the Murray Islanders' native title without compensation
finding that it was inconsistent with the federal Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
Mabo (No.2) (1992) rejected the
doctrine of 'terra nullius' - that Australia did not belong to anyone at the
time of European settlement - and recognised that Indigenous people who have
maintained a continuing connection with their country according to their
traditions and customs may hold native title rights over that land.

Migration Program
The part of Australia's permanent immigration
program under which people can apply to come to or stay in Australia permanently
on the basis of their employment skills or their family ties with a sponsor who
is a permanent resident or citizen of Australia.

Migration zone
The migration zone is made up of the land area of
all the states and territories of Australia and the waters of proclaimed ports
within those states and territories. The land area starts at the mean low water
mark. The migration zone does not include the territorial sea that is off the
coast of the Australian states and territories. The purpose of the migration
zone is to define the area of Australia where a non-citizen must hold a visa in
order to legally enter and remain in Australia. Anyone who enters the migration
zone, including Australian citizens, must present themselves for immigration

Describes the diversity of cultures and backgrounds
that make up modern Australian society.

Multiculturalism is a government policy that
recognises and celebrates Australia's cultural diversity and seeks to address
the challenges and opportunities arising from it.

The Commonwealth Government has identified three dimensions of multicultural

  • cultural identity: the right of all Australians, within carefully defined
    limited, to express and share their individual cultural heritage, including
    their language and religion;
  • social justice: the right of all Australians to equality of treatment and
    opportunity, and the removal of barriers of race, ethnicity, culture, religion,
    language, gender or place of birth; and
  • economic efficiency: the need to maintain, develop and utilise effectively
    the skills and talents of all Australians, regardless of

Native title
Indigenous peoples' rights to land or waters
held according to their traditional laws and customs. First recognised in the
common law in the Mabo Case and then implemented in legislation in the Native
Title Act 1993.

Northern Territory Intervention
A package of
‘emergency’ legislation and policy put in place in the Northern
Territory by the federal government in 2007. Also known as the ‘Northern
Territory Emergency Response’ (NTER).

Permanent Protection Visa
This visa recognises refugee status and
provides permanent asylum in Australia. Entitlements include immediate access to
a full range of settlement services, social security benefits, family reunion
and the right to leave the country and return. Refugees who apply overseas and
refugees who apply while in Australia on another valid visa will be granted a
Permanent Protection Visa.

The movement for Aboriginal reconciliation aims to
foster understanding of the historic relationship between Indigenous and
non-Indigenous Australians and develop more harmonious and cooperative relations
for the future.

The 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status
of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol define a refugee as someone who: owing to
well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion,
nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is
outside the country of his [or her] nationality and is unable, or owing to such
fear, is unwilling to avail himself [or herself] of the protection of that
country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his
[or her] former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or,
owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights (ICCPR), repeated identically in the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966 (ICESCR), states that
self-determination is the right of all peoples to 'freely determine their
political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural

Skill Stream migrants
A visa category which allows people to
migrate to Australia on the basis of their occupation, education, work
experience, age and English language ability.

Special Eligibility category
A visa category that allows former
residents and certain categories of non-citizens who spent their formative years
in Australia to migrate to Australia.

Special measures
A 'special measure' gives a group an extra benefit
(additional to those enjoyed by the rest of the community) to help remedy a
legacy of discrimination or disadvantage against that particular group. For
example, Aboriginal Medical Services are a 'special measure' in recognition of
the gross health disparities affecting Indigenous Australians. A 'special
measure' is an exception to the general rule prohibiting racial discrimination.
It is lawful if its sole purpose is to advance the equal enjoyment of human
rights of a racial or ethnic group.

'Stolen children' or 'Stolen Generations'
The popular terms
describing the Indigenous children forcibly removed from their parents (without
parental consent or a court order) by government authorities across Australia,
starting as early as the 1870s in some places and continuing into the 1960s in
some states, with the aim of assimilating them into non-Aboriginal society.

Terra nullius
A Latin term meaning 'not inhabited'.
Australia was colonised by the British in the belief that the colony was being
acquired by occupation (or settlement) of a 'terra nullius'. The High Court's
Mabo decision in 1992 overturned the 'terra nullius' fiction by recognising that
Indigenous property rights survived the British colonisation of Australia.

Temporary Protection Visa
This visa category was abolished in 2008.
It recognised refugee status but only provided temporary asylum in Australia.
Entitlements did not include access to settlement services, most social security
benefits, sponsorship of family members to Australia or the right to leave
Australia and return. Most refugees who arrived in Australia without a valid
visa could only apply for a Temporary Protection Visa. Refugees who arrive in
Australia can now make an application for a Permanent Protection Visa.

Torres Strait Islander
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Commission Act 1989 defines a Torres Strait Islander as 'a descendant of an
Indigenous inhabitant of the Torres Strait Islands'. The Torres Strait Islands
lie between the tip of Cape York in Queensland and Papua New Guinea.

'Unauthorised arrivals'
The term most commonly used for people who
arrive in Australia without a valid visa. Under the Migration Act the correct
legal term is 'unlawful non-citizens'. Unlawful non-citizens must be detained
until removed from Australia or granted a visa.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
leads and co-ordinates international action to protect refugees worldwide. Its
primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It aims
to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe
refuge in another state, with the option to return home voluntarily (where
possible), integrate locally in a host community or to resettle in a third

Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR)
Adopted in
the aftermath of World War II by the newly-established United Nations General
Assembly, the Universal Declaration proclaimed the basic rights and freedoms to
which everyone, regardless of nationality, is entitled. These include, among
others, the rights to life, liberty, freedom of thought, conscience and
religion, to work, to education and freedom from persecution. Unlike conventions
and covenants, the Universal Declaration was not originally binding. However, it
is now recognised as binding on all UN members.

White Australia policy
A series of laws and policies implemented in
Australia from 1901 until the 1970s which aimed to keep people who were not from
a white European background out of the country. These laws also restricted the
lives of Indigenous people and other people already in Australia who were not
considered 'white'.

[1] Department of Immigration and
Citizenship, National Agenda for a Multicultural Society, 2008,…
(viewed 22 September 2008)