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Call to review “Stronger Futures” legislation

The Sydney Peace Foundation supports the recent recommendations of a senior UN official that the Australian Government refer its proposals – the Stronger Futures Bill – for an extension of the federal intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal lands to a newly formed parliamentary committee on human rights.

The Foundation is aware of Aboriginal Elders who feel strongly that the consultation with them and their communities has been rushed, and that in consequence the Government representatives have not heard what communities have said, in particular about the security of Homelands.

Chair of the Foundation Professor Stuart Rees says, “We agree with Patrick Dodson’s conclusions, ‘Five years on, the intervention, for so many Aboriginal Territorians, still hangs like a veil of exclusion from the same rights and privileges available to every other citizen in this country.’”[1]

Dodson points to the recommendations of Tony Fitzgerald and the Anti-Discrimination Commission’s submission to the Review of the Intervention in 2008 which stressed the ‘return the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory to their proper status as citizens, with equal standing and quality of life with all other Australians.’[2]

Rushing the “Stronger Futures” legislation through parliament and thereby prolonging John Howard’s interventionist policies for another 10 years is unwise and remains discriminatory.