Human rights check is a vital step towards dignity for Indigenous Australians

20 June 2012

The Uniting Church in Australia has welcomed the call by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to investigate the proposed Stronger Futures legislation.

The National Director of UnitingJustice, Rev. Elenie Poulos, said that without amendment the legislation risks damaging another generation of the First Peoples and fails to uphold their rights.

“The Stronger Futures legislation will see the discriminatory measures of the Intervention extended by up to a decade,” said Rev. Poulos.

"Our submissions to the Government have consistently expressed our concerns that the legislation does not meet Australia's obligations under human rights laws.

“All legislation that impacts our Indigenous brothers and sisters must be accompanied by an unequivocal statement that the measures will be implemented in a non-discriminatory manner and with the full protection of international laws.

"The Stronger Futures legislation was brought forward before the Government introduced a requirement to ensure all laws in Australia complied with our human rights obligations.

“It is right and fair that the Committee has recommended that this legislation be put to the same test," said Rev. Poulos.

Uniting Church Northern Synod Moderator Stuart McMillan said, “It is vital the outcomes sought through Closing the Gap are achieved and the Uniting Church wants to be part of this process. However, this has to be done within a legislative framework that respects human rights and values the participation of Indigenous people as equal partners”.

The President of the Uniting Church, Rev. Alistair Macrae, said, "This is an opportunity for the Government to show that it has nothing to hide, that it is committed to the long-term health and security of Indigenous peoples, and that the legislation is grounded in principles of justice.

"As a nation, thousands have raised their voices to express clear opposition to the Stronger Futures legislation. A human rights compatibility test will signal the Government’s genuine commitment to reconciliation and justice and will be a vital step towards ensuring the dignity of Australia’s First Peoples," said Rev. Macrae.