Following the recent setback of the voice to parliament referendum, the Australian public finds itself in a state of uncertainty regarding the government’s plan for advancing First Nations justice. Despite the fervor leading up to October 14, the Albanese government has maintained an uncharacteristic silence on its next steps, leaving the populace eager for a plan B.
Amidst this uncertainty, a crucial need for sustained momentum in the pursuit of justice for First Nations people emerges. The absence of a government-provided alternative plan has heightened the importance of strong leadership to navigate the way forward. However, expectations for such leadership from a government mourning the failed reform are tempered, particularly as doubts linger about the potential impact of the proposed changes on the lives of First Peoples.
In the absence of government-driven leadership, the article contends that true guidance emanates from the First Nations people themselves, rooted in principles of care, community, and custodianship. Emphasizing a rights-based approach, the article underscores the imperative of prohibiting, preventing, and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the realization of rights. This approach hinges on upholding sovereign rights to nurture, care for the lands, waters, and skies of the continent.
The violation of First Peoples’ rights since colonization underscores the urgent need for acknowledging and reconciling historical truths as a foundation for healing and progress. The article advocates for treaty-making with the First Peoples as a means to establish a framework for harmonious coexistence, rooted in the respect of human rights for all. The pursuit of truth and treaty, a long-standing aspiration, is positioned as a pathway to peace and collective thriving.
However, the article posits that a logical and crucial next step lies in the execution of UN Declaration on Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Framed as a human rights instrument developed by First Peoples globally, the UNDRIP encapsulates principles already safeguarded under international customary and treaty law, setting a baseline for First Peoples’ human rights.
Despite Australia’s initial opposition to the UNDRIP in 2007, the government later endorsed it without genuine intent for implementation. The lack of political will has impeded progress, leading to persistent violations of the declaration’s core principles.
The article contends that enshrining the UNDRIP into Australian law is imperative to hold the government accountable. Drawing inspiration from Canada’s successful approach, the proposed bill calls for an audit of laws for compliance with the UNDRIP, the development of a national action plan, and regular progress reports.
The article concludes with a call to action, asserting that legislation is the tangible path to ensure government accountability, regardless of political affiliations. It highlights the urgency of resorting to international law, emphasizing that lip service to the importance of First Peoples’ rights is insufficient.
The pending debate on the bill signals a critical juncture, testing the government’s commitment to First Nations justice and self-determination. The eyes of the nation are poised on the outcome, awaiting tangible steps towards a more just and inclusive future.