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Australian and New Zealand Race Relations Roundtable

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Acting Commission, Anne Burgess, attended the Australian and New Zealand Race Relations Roundtable from 16-17 April 2012. See below for a Communique from the Australian Human Rights Commission about the Roundtable:

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

COMMUNIQUÉ - Australian and New Zealand Race Relations Roundtable

Commissioners from the New Zealand and Australian Human Rights Commissions and Australian state and territory human rights agencies, listed below, met in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory on 16 and 17 April 2012 for the Race Relations Round Table.

The Round Table provides an opportunity for the Commissioners and their agencies to discuss racial equality matters of mutual interest and concern to both countries. The 2012 Round Table had a particular focus on systemic discrimination and racism.

Those attending the Round Table noted:

1. While all our agencies have the important tasks of promoting human rights and helping to resolve individual complaints of racial discrimination, these are insufficient to address systemic discrimination and racism, which is a priority for us all.

2. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination requires our national governments to meet their obligations in respect of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, in particular:
a. cultural recognition; and
b. equality.

3. There are unacceptably high levels of imprisonment of Indigenous people in both Australia and New Zealand.

4. The development of an Australian Anti-Racism Strategy encourages community input. This strategy should itself be considered part of a wider vision for racial equality, cultural diversity and intercultural understanding. We heard from the mentors and participants of the Clontarf Foundation who highlighted the importance and potential of active involvement of young people.

5. We met with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, and support her call to stop the abuse and violence against women and children and to address the underlying causes resulting from long-term social and economic disadvantage.

6. We had a discussion with a number of community and legal organisations from Alice Springs, and noted that:
a. A perverse effect of the Northern Territory Emergency Response in 2007 has been a profound sense of disempowerment by communities;
b. The current Stronger Futures package seeks to move past the NT Emergency Response. As a show of good faith on the part of Government, to facilitate the rebuilding of trust with the communities affected, the package should be subjected to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to ensure compliance with human rights obligations;
c. The legislation and implementation of any resulting measures should have, as a central principle, seeking to achieve negotiated and agreed outcomes between government and communities. This will require government to support strengthening of community governance and capability, consistent with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to develop cultural competence in all those involved in the implementation.

7. All organisations, community members and levels of government have a role to play in supporting the development of positive futures.

We acknowledge the Alice Springs community, and beyond, who gave their time to provide local perspectives on the issues discussed.

Agencies represented at the Round Table were:

  • New Zealand Human Rights Commission
  • Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission
  • Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland
  • Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
  • Office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Tasmania
  • South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission
  • Western Australian Commission for Equal Opportunity

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay (02) 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529