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Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission: Social Justice Report 2000

2000 Social
Justice Report Summary

By Dr William Jonas AM, Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

The defining
feature of the past year has been the focus on reconciliation ... But as
we reach this crucial stage in relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous
Australians, reconciliation has come to mean different things to different
people. Reconciliation has been described as a 'peoples movement' ...having
reached a level of community support that is now unstoppable. For the
government it is also a term that means practical measures to achieve
practical improvements in the livelihoods of Indigenous peoples ... For many
Indigenous peoples it has been seen as yet another opportunity ... for a
durable resolution to the ongoing consequences of the taking of these

Ultimately, these
differing views of what reconciliation involves have a common point of
departure: the appropriate role of human rights to the reconciliation
process ... These are the weighty issues that are considered in this report.
Introduction, pp1-2.


The 2000 Social Justice
Report is the second report by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social
Justice Commissioner Dr William Jonas. It was transmitted to the federal
Attorney-General, the Hon. Daryl Williams AM QC MP, on 21 December 2000.

The theme of the
report is reconciliation and human rights.

Dr Jonas argues that
despite a worrying trend to de-legitimise human rights principles in Australia,
the challenge of reconciliation will only be met through an approach that
recognises and protects Indigenous people's rights.

Some fear that
the recognition of Indigenous rights would be a threat to national unity
by creating separate rights and giving Indigenous people a privileged
position in our nation's future. ...As a consequence it is often argued that
reconciliation must provide 'unity' and confirm the 'sameness' of all
Australians; that it must not be 'divisive' by providing additional benefits
to Indigenous people and that it should focus on 'practical' measures
and outcomes ....I will argue that these fears are unwarranted and are not
Chapter 2, p18.

The report contains
14 recommendations calling on the federal government to turn reconciliation
into action and outcomes (pp 130-132).

The report covers
the following issues raised during the year 2000 debate on reconciliation:

  • Why are human
    rights relevant to reconciliation?
    The report discusses the significance
    of 'history' to current Indigenous disadvantage; the relevance of
    special measures, and the importance of recognising cultural difference,
    self-determination and effective participation to reconciliation (Chapter

  • How are we
    currently performing on Indigenous human rights?
    The report examines
    the dialogue between the Commonwealth Government and the Committee
    on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in March 2000 in
    order to gauge how we are currently performing on Indigenous human
    rights (Chapter 3);

  • What measures
    must we take to achieve meaningful reconciliation that respects human
    Discusses the commitments and measures necessary for the
    federal government to make reconciliation a reality (Chapter 4); and

  • What is the
    relevance of reparations to reconciliation?
    The report focuses
    on reparations for the victims of forcible removals policies (Chapter

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2: Reconciliation and Human Rights

The reconciliation
process has the potential to be as significant, and difficult, as the
process that led to the joining together of the states into one indissoluble
federation in 1901. It challenges us to adapt the structures of society
in ways that ensure that first nation peoples can participate fully, be
welcomed and have our cultures respected. Integral to this process is
an acknowledgement of the wrongs of the past and an acceptance of the
need for a restructured relationship. Such a relationship must involve
the full recognition and respect for the human rights of all Australians,
including Indigenous peoples.
Chapter 2, p5.

The role of the
past in reconciliation

At the end of the
first decade of the formal process of reconciliation, the history of relations
between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians has 'become indelibly
etched on the national consciousness'(p5) and 'we find ourselves unable
to take the easy road and ignore or forget the past'(p8).

The report argues
that Indigenous disadvantage is historically derived and that the relationship
between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people since contact has been based
on false assumptions about Indigenous cultural inferiority. This is reflected
through the doctrine of terra nullius and the lack of recognition of native
title prior to 1992, and the forcible removal of Indigenous children from
their families.

Dr Jonas argues that
assumptions of cultural superiority are still reflected in contemporary
debate about the impact and appropriate response to forcible removal policies,
'albeit in a more diluted and subtle form' (p12).

... attention has
been directed to the bona fides of policy makers of the time, by asking
'did policy makers of the day believe that they were acting in the best
interests of Indigenous children?' Policy makers of the time were, of
course, operating wholly within the then existing cultural norms, which
gave expression to the perceived racial inferiority of Indigenous people.
The crucial inquiry, therefore, is correctly stated as whether removal
policies were premised on assumptions about the cultural inferiority of
Indigenous people which predetermined that the best interests of the child,
and of the wider society, would best be served by removing the child from
their family, community and culture ...We have been unable to transcend
a dialogue grounded in the beliefs and assumptions that underpinned society
at the time the policies were in place.
Chapter 2, p12.


The unemployment
rate for Indigenous youth in 1996 was 28.6 per cent - more than double
the corresponding rate for all youth. While the unemployment rate declines
for adults aged 30 years and over, the rate of unemployment among Indigenous
Australians remains more than double that of all Australians. The unemployment
rate for Indigenous people over the age of 30 is higher than the unemployment
rate for the total youth population.

Denying the past

Dr Jonas argues
that the denial of the relevance of the past in explaining the systemic
disadvantage and discrimination experienced by Indigenous people today
is used to absolve the government from responsibility, eg. the failure
to apologise for forcible removals (see pp 13-15). He also says that opposition
to an apology misunderstands the purpose of an apology, and can be seen
as an example of cross-cultural misunderstanding of what Indigenous people
are seeking (p15).

'Renewing' the relationship

'To state that recognition
of the past is essential for meaningful reconciliation does not mean that
we should be constrained by it' (p15). The report suggests that reconciliation
should be seen as a 'renewal' of the relationship between Indigenous and
non-Indigenous Australians, which builds on our achievements and acknowledges
our errors. It describes an approach by the Canadian Royal Commission
on Aboriginal Peoples recommending a relationship built on mutual recognition,
mutual respect, sharing and mutual responsibility.

Human rights and

The report argues
that for reconciliation to be meaningful it must respect human rights.

A rights basis
for the reconciliation process does not provide additional benefits or
protections to Indigenous people, or a privileged place in Australian
society. On the contrary, it remedies deficiencies that have existed for
much of the period of contact between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
It also provides acknowledgement of the fact that, much like the celebration
and acceptance of multiculturalism, we are a richer country for valuing
Indigenous cultures and traditions on their own terms, and making them
a feature of the fabric of our society.
Chapter 2, p32.

The meaning of equality
- embracing diversity and difference

The report claims
that the broader Australian community lacks an understanding of how the
basic human rights principles of non-discrimination and equality before
the law relate to the reconciliation process. The view that 'everybody
should be treated the same' overlooks the simple fact that throughout
Australian history Indigenous people never have been (p19).

The report argues
that for Indigenous people to participate equally in Australian society,
there must be:

  • Acknowledgement
    that Indigenous disadvantage is historically-derived and remedial measures
    are needed to give Indigenous people equal opportunity;
  • Respect and celebration
    of cultural difference through the co-existence of Indigenous values,
    cultures and traditions with those of the mainstream; and understanding
    that this will not lead to separatism; and
  • Recognition that
    measures for protecting the culture and identity of Indigenous peoples
    may legitimately require different (rather than 'racist') treatment

disadvantage and 'practical reconciliation'

report argues that the current approach focusing on 'practical reconciliation'
leaves Indigenous people subject to the beneficence and good intentions
of government rather than addressing Indigenous disadvantage as a matter
of human rights. The report suggests that a human rights approach
to disadvantage is required, the elements of which include:

  • Empowering Indigenous
    people by ensuring they take part in decisions affecting them; Using
    human rights principles as benchmarks to assess the adequacy and appropriateness
    of the government's response;
  • Using special
    measures as a form of differential treatment to help eliminate disadvantage
    ? to be sustained only as long as the group is disadvantaged; and
  • Prioritising resources
    to satisfy basic human rights standards.

report contends that the gross disparity remaining between Indigenous
and non-Indigenous Australians indicates that the enjoyment of rights
is not provided on the basis of equality or in a non-discriminatory manner.

questions that we must ask from a human rights perspective are first,
is the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people closing? And consequently,
are we doing enough to overcome or reduce the level of disadvantage or
are we merely doing enough to 'manage' it? ...despite the rhetoric of 'practical
reconciliation' it is difficult to see that redressing Indigenous disadvantage
has been elevated to a sufficient level of priority ...
Chapter 2,

report considers the 'social cost' of 'managing' (rather than overcoming)
Indigenous disadvantage and argues that this will escalate unless an extensive
and long-term commitment is made to redressing disadvantage.

and effective participation: 'within the life of the nation'?

most controversial aspect of the debate on reconciliation has been over
the implications of the right to self-determination. Dr Jonas shows that
fears self-determination will threaten national unity and lead to separate
rights or secession are unfounded.

is not about the creation of separate rights,' Dr Jonas says. 'It is about
inclusive government, in which Indigenous people rightfully have a role
in determining their priorities and destiny' (p32).

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3 - International scrutiny of Australia's Indigenous affairs policies

Chapter 3 examines
Australia's current performance in relation to Indigenous human rights.
It focuses on the dialogue between the Australian government and the Committee
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in March 2000. The
dialogue examined Australia's compliance with our obligations under the
United Nations racial discrimination convention. It considered a range
of issues that must be addressed for reconciliation to be meaningful.

There has been a
great deal of misunderstanding about the nature of that dialogue and so
the report reproduces extensive excerpts from the dialogue in order to
explain why the Committee raised particular issues; the adequacy of the
Government's responses; and the appropriateness of the conclusions and
concerns expressed by the Committee. The chapter also exposes a number
of myths surrounding the operation of the UN human rights treaty system
and Australia's international obligations.

The report expresses
concern at the following issues:

  • Australia's obligations
    to protect cultural diversity: The government demonstrated to CERD a
    poor understanding of its obligations to ensure equality before the
    law, including by taking 'protective measures' to protect the cultures
    of Indigenous peoples (pp 41-49);

  • Inadequate protection
    of human rights in Australian law: The federal government is in breach
    of its international obligations when it refuses to use its powers to
    ensure that state and territory laws comply with our human rights obligations
    (pp49-53) - such as with the refusal to overturn mandatory sentencing
    laws (pp67-72);

  • Inadequate protection
    in Australian law against racial discrimination: Despite the existence
    of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the federal government may still
    introduce racially discriminatory laws - such as the native title amendments
    (pp53-57). Concern is expressed at the lack of an entrenched guarantee
    against racial discrimination in the Constitution;

  • Extent of Indigenous
    disadvantage: The Committee confirmed that the extent of Indigenous
    disadvantage raises serious concerns about Australia's compliance with
    the requirement to provide equality before the law and to treat people
    in a non-discriminatory manner. On this issue the CERD expressed concern
    at 'the extent of the dramatic inequalities that are still being experienced
    by these population groups when they represent no more than 2% of the
    population of a highly developed, industrialised state' (p58). Australia
    also has an obligation to adopt special measures to overcome this disadvantage
    - as a matter of human rights compliance (pp 57-64);

  • Indigenous over-representation
    in criminal justice systems: The report highlights the necessity to
    adopt measures to address socio-economic marginalisation and to develop
    appropriate diversionary options (pp64-67);

  • Mandatory sentencing:
    The report highlights a series of concerns about mandatory sentencing,
    including its racially discriminatory impact. It notes the 'deeply unsatisfactory'
    explanations provided by the government on this issue (p69);

  • Reconciliation
    and 'Bringing them home': The report highlights the need for a consensual
    approach to reconciliation - negotiated with Indigenous peoples; and
    the importance of responding appropriately to the Bringing them home
    report (pp 72-75).

The government's
response to CERD and the treaty review process

The government responded
to the concluding observations of the Committee by stating that the 'Committee's
report is an unbalanced and wide-ranging attack that intrudes unreasonably
into Australia's domestic affairs'; that 'the Committee has apparently
failed to grapple with our unique and complex history'; and that the Committee
'paid scant regard to the Government's input and has relied almost exclusively
on information provided by non-government organisations'. Accordingly,
the government rejected the comments made by the CERD and called for a
review of Australia's participation in the United Nations treaty system.

Dr Jonas expresses
a number of concerns about the government's response to the Committee's
concluding observations. He rejects the claim that the Committee was 'unbalanced'
in its views; as well as the criticism that the committee did not make
a 'fair and accurate assessment' of Australia's performance; that issues
such as mandatory sentencing were outside the committee's mandate; that
the Committee's assessment was 'blatantly political'; that international
treaties are broad enough to allow different interpretations of obligations;
and that the Committee's membership is drawn from countries with human
rights records worse than that of Australia.

In relation to the
Government's rejection of the finding that the Native Title Act does not
over-ride the Racial Discrimination Act, the report says the Government
is "manifestly wrong" (p55) and its explanations of its position on the
NT's mandatory sentencing laws are "deeply unsatisfactory" (p69). 'It
is inconceivable that these laws could be seen as proportionate, reasonable
or just,' says Dr Jonas (p71).

Dr Jonas concludes
that 'all parties to human rights treaties are brought to account by the
UN treaty committee system. In the end what is important is that through
international dialogue, the human rights dimension of the issues at hand
can be greater emphasised and understood by those who draft and formulate
policies and legislation at the domestic level.' (p85)

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4: Achieving meaningful reconciliation

This chapter identifies
crucial commitments and processes that governments must engage in to progress
meaningful reconciliation in the coming years. It calls for Indigenous
policy to be formulated with a human rights framework. This requires
that the following four principles be met:

  • Non-discrimination
    - guarantee of equal treatment for all, which extends to recognition
    of distinct cultural characteristics and the adoption of temporary special
    measures to overcome existing inequalities;
  • Progressive realisation
    - the commitment of sufficient resources through well-targeted programs
    to ensure adequate progress in overcoming Indigenous disadvantage;
  • Effective participation
    - adequate involvement of Indigenous people and communities in decisions
    that affect them, including service delivery and design; and
  • Effective remedies
    - the provision of mechanisms for redress where human rights are violated
    (see further pp87-88).

The report contains
14 recommendations identifying how this can be achieved. It requires:

  • Increasing the
    accountability and transparency of governments for policies to overcome
    Indigenous disadvantage;
  • Facilitating the
    effective participation of Indigenous peoples in service delivery and
    policy development; and
  • Ensuring adequate
    protection of the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous disadvantage
and progressive realisation

The appropriate
standard for measuring progress in addressing Indigenous disadvantage
is one of equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
A focus on equality highlights that Government is obligated to progressively
reduce the inequalities faced by Indigenous people by targeting such disadvantage
and taking appropriate steps to the maximum of available resources ...

Current funding
arrangements do not meet these obligations. Despite the commitment of
significant resources to redress Indigenous disadvantage there is very
little to indicate the priority that governments attach to reducing the
inequalities ... Also missing from current funding and service delivery arrangements
are adequate performance targets, benchmarks and mechanisms to ensure
government accountability and transparency.
Chapter 4, pp88-89.

The report states
that the current approach, which simply highlights the level of expenditure
on Indigenous programs, helps create 'resentment among other parts of
society about 'special treatment' and 'lacks comparative and evaluative
components' (p91). The report compares the current federal government's
approach to that of the governments of Canada and New Zealand, who have
adopted an equality approach aimed at progressively 'closing the gaps'
(see pp91-94). The report calls for a coordinated, long-term strategy
at the national level to address Indigenous disadvantage.

The report notes
the current inadequate collection of statistics at the national and regional
levels, as well as the need for agreement on improved benchmarks and targets
at all levels of government, as well as the need for better monitoring
and evaluation mechanisms (pp96-100). While statistics alone cannot measure
rights they can help in designing and evaluating policy.

The report argues
that to provide sufficient government accountability for Indigenous policies
the government must:

  • Make an unqualified
    national commitment to redressing Indigenous disadvantage;
  • Facilitate the
    collection of data for decision making, reporting and monitoring progress;
  • Set benchmarks
    - negotiated with Indigenous peoples, state and territory governments
    and service delivery organizations, with clear timeframes for achieving
    longer term and short term goals;
  • Provide national
    leadership to facilitate inter-governmental cooperation; and
  • Ensure the full
    participation of Indigenous peoples in the design and delivery of services.

1 - 10 address these issues (pp 130-132).
A summary of the recommendations
is attached to this summary.

Indigenous governance

report argues that the reconciliation debate has not placed enough emphasis
on the importance of developing Indigenous governance structures and regional

development of governance structures and regional autonomy provides the
potential for a successful meeting place to integrate the various strands
of reconciliation. In particular, it is able to tie together the aims
of promoting recognition of Indigenous rights, with the related aims of
overcoming disadvantage and achieving economic independence. Unfortunately,
during the reconciliation debate so far, there has been insufficient acknowledgement
of the inter-related nature of these processes, which has been demonstrated
by the failure to identify the crucial nature of recognising and building
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governance capacity to achieving
these goals.
Chapter 4, p107.

A focus
on Indigenous self-governance highlights:

  • The need for greater
    coordination of services;
  • The collective
    nature of the solutions required to meet the current problems faced
    by Indigenous communities;
  • The necessity
    to adopt a holistic approach to Indigenous need; and
  • The importance
    of renewing Indigenous societal structures and respect for Indigenous
    cultures at the local level.

report recommends greater regional autonomy for Indigenous peoples. This
does not necessarily mean the creation of new structures. There is also
no 'one size fits all' model that will suit all circumstances and 'it
is essential that a range of strategies and mechanisms be considered'
(p121). Various governance structures already exist - including ATSIC,
native title representative bodies, land councils, and community-controlled
organizations. The report also considers some of the regional governance
processes currently in development, such as the coordinated health care
trial in the Northern Territory (pp114-15), the Cape York partnerships
plan (pp117-120), the Murdi Paarki regional model (p117), and the ATSIC
regional authority model in the Kimberley and East Arnhem regions (pp120-121).

report argues that:

should agree to negotiate mechanisms to facilitate greater regional autonomy
through the design and delivery of programs and services. Negotiations
should include matters such as developing flexible funding arrangements
with Indigenous organizations, including transfer of funding, block funding
and arrangements for pooling funds across governments and on a regional
basis; Indigenous participation in developing service delivery priorities,
setting benchmarks and targets on a regional basis and in monitoring and
evaluating progress'

and protecting Indigenous rights

found that current protection is inadequate, the report identifies two
processes to ensure adequate protection of human rights in Australia,
especially Indigenous rights

Improving accountability for human rights

To improve
accountability for human rights in Australian law the report identifies
three options:

  • A constitutional
    Bill of Rights
    - this is identified as the preferable, longer term
    objective that would bind all levels of government;
  • A prohibition
    of racial discrimination in the Constitution
    - this is identified
    as an immediate priority, which would bind all levels of government
    and 'place the commitment of government to (the principle of non-discrimination
    on the basis of race) at the highest possible level, and guarantee that
    such commitment could never be put aside for more expedient political
    purposes' (p124); and
  • A legislated
    Bill of Rights
    - which would guarantee compliance by the states
    and territories with human rights obligations, and provide moral authority
    for successive federal governments to act consistently with human rights
    obligations. Such an approach would allow time for people to become
    more comfortable with a Bill of Rights before a referendum to constitutionally
    enshrine it: 'Such an approach would confirm that state and territory
    governments have an important, indeed primary, role in setting laws.
    They would remain free to pass whatever laws they chose, subject to
    the constraint that those laws met minimum core standards. This is consistent
    with the purpose of a federation - in which no one level of government
    has unfettered power to make any laws that it chooses'
    4, p124.

In relation
to the international accountability of the government for human rights
the report notes that Australia does not fare well on the basis of objective
accountability measures (see pp124-125). The report suggests that to improve
Australia's accountability for human rights:

  • Australia ratify
    all individual communication mechanisms (the government refused to ratify
    the optional protocol to CEDAW during the treaty review process);
  • The government
    respond more appropriately to the conclusions of treaty committees;
  • The government
    increase the priority with which it processes periodic reports under
    human rights treaties (the latest report to the CERD was due in October
    2000, and is already nearly 6 months late).

To address
these concerns the recommendations of the report call for:

  • a parliamentary
    inquiry to progress discussion about a Bill of Rights, and to determine
    a mechanism for the entrenchment of a prohibition of racial discrimination
    in the Commonwealth Constitution (rec 13, p132); and
  • universal ratification
    of individual communication processes under human rights treaties, including
    ratification of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW (rec 14, p132).

Negotiating with Indigenous peoples over unfinished business

these mechanisms build a framework for protecting rights in the future,
they do not address historical injustices. Accordingly the report calls

negotiation of agreements with Indigenous peoples. The report calls for
the negotiation of a framework agreement (or treaty) at the national level,
and negotiation of agreements at the regional and local levels recognising
Indigenous rights and dealing with 'unfinished business'.
4, p126.

report recommends a two stage process for agreement making:

first stage is the introduction of framework agreements legislation,
which recognizes the need to negotiate with Indigenous peoples about a
range of matters and sets out protocols and a negotiation framework within
which negotiations will take place. It should provide legislative force
to agreements with Indigenous organizations on a local, regional and national
Chapter 4, p126.

stage would also involve the agreement of negotiation protocols. The report
recommends the adoption of the Social Justice Package principles (reproduced
at pp 126-127) as the basis of negotiations.

second stage
would be to work towards constitutional entrenchment
of agreements.

introduced such framework legislation, and provided appropriate resources
for agreement processes to be entered into, the second stage of
the process is a commitment to work towards amending the Commonwealth
Constitution along similar lines to the current section 105A to provide
the Commonwealth with the power to make agreements with Indigenous peoples.
Section 105A of the Constitution provides that the Commonwealth may make
agreements with the States with respect to the public debts of the States.
It further provides that the federal Parliament has power to legislate
any matter contained in the agreement; that such agreements can be varied
or rescinded by the parties; and that agreements, and any variations,
are to bind all levels of government. This would be a long-term approach
and has the benefit of protecting documents of consensus (therefore reflecting
both the aspirations of Indigenous people, and being acceptable to the
broader community). By approaching such reform in two stages, the mainstream
society is able to come to a deeper appreciation of the need for such
agreements and to have a more detailed understanding of the issues involved.

Chapter 4, p128.

recommendations of the report call for:

  • the introduction
    of national framework legislation - based on the Council for Aboriginal
    Reconciliation's Reconciliation Bill 2000 - to provide legislative
    support for the negotiation of agreements with Indigenous people at
    the national, regional and local levels (rec 11, p132); and
  • the adoption of
    the Social Justice principles from the Social Justice Package
    of 1995 as the basis for negotiations about service delivery, regional
    governance and unfinished business (rec 12, p132).

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5 - Reparations

Reparation - the
process of making amends for harm and injustice suffered - is fundamental
to reconciliation. There cannot be reconciliation without reparation.
The historical disadvantage, suffering and hostility that reconciliation
attempts to overcome will only occur when there are genuine and concrete
measures to put right the wrongs.
5, p133.

This chapter examines
the importance to reconciliation of providing reparation for the victims
of forcible removal policies.

The report reviews
international human rights principles that suggest that measures aimed
at rehabilitation and atonement are appropriate and necessary responses
to gross violations of human rights.

The report then examines
the response of the federal government to Bringing them home. It
criticises the Government's rejection of a formal national apology (pp138-140),
its refusal to consider monetary forms of compensation (pp140-141), and
its insistence on legal liability as a prerequisite to compensation (pp142-143).

The report then considers
recent international experience in responding to violations of human rights
and concludes that 'the refusal to apologise ..., the failure to develop
comprehensive reparations programs and advocacy of litigation as an appropriate
redress mechanism are contrary to a world-wide trend' (p143).

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The report contains
two appendices:

  • A summary of
    submissions made by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
    in 2000 to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination;
    the Human Rights Committee; and the Committee on Economic, Social
    and Cultural Rights (Appendix 1); and

  • The concluding
    observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
    from March 2000.

Appendix 1: Summary of Recommendations
of the report

National commitments
to overcome Indigenous disadvantage

1) The federal government
adopt, on a whole of government basis, long-term policies that identify
overcoming Indigenous disadvantage as a national priority; special measures
to achieve this end, and negotiate cross-party support for a long term
strategy and commitment;

2) That such a commitment
be agreed by all levels of government through the processes of the Council
of Australian Governments (COAG), and form the basis of a renewed National
Commitment by COAG;

3) That all levels
of government and ATSIC, service delivery agencies and Indigenous organisations
agree on benchmarks for Indigenous service delivery at the national, regional
and local levels;

4) That all governments
report to COAG and the public through Reconciliation Australia on their
responses to the recommendations of this report and the recommendations
of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation;

5) That Australia's
National Action Plan on Human Rights reflect this national commitment
to overcome Indigenous disadvantage.

Improved data collection

1) The federal government
request advice from specialised agencies on mechanisms to improve the
sufficiency and quality of data collection regarding Indigenous need;
the sufficiency of current collection processes by the Australian Bureau
of Statistics (ABS); proposals to increase coordination and consistency
across governments; and cost implications of improved data collection;

2) That the ABS address
deficiencies identified in data collection;

3) That the federal
government coordinate the negotiation of agreements between governments
to improve coordination and standardisation of data collection.

Monitoring and evaluation

1) The Commonwealth
Grants Commission (CGC) be empowered to conduct biennial inquiries into
Indigenous funding (from an absolute need perspective), and that a parliamentary
committee be required to consider the outcomes of the CGC inquiries;

2) All governments
agree to report every two years to their parliaments, COAG and the Reconciliation
Conventions proposed in the Reconciliation Bill 2000 on progress in addressing
Indigenous disadvantage.

Negotiating with
Indigenous peoples

1) The federal government
introduce national framework legislation - based on the Council for Aboriginal
Reconciliation's Reconciliation Bill 2000 - to provide legislative support
for the negotiation of agreements with Indigenous people at the national,
regional and local levels;

2) The Social Justice
principles from the Social Justice Package of 1995 be adopted as the basis
for negotiations about service delivery, regional governance and unfinished

Protecting human

1) A parliamentary
inquiry be set up to examine mechanisms for a Bill of Rights, and to determine
a mechanism for the entrenchment of a prohibition of racial discrimination
in the Commonwealth Constitution;

2) The government
ratify the Optional Protocol to CEDAW.