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Establishing effective mechanisms at the national and regional levels for implementation of United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Law Council of Australia thanks the Expert Mechanism for the opportunity to provide input into the Study concerning States’ measures to achieve the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).1 The Law Council acknowledges the support of its Indigenous Legal Issues Committee in the preparation of this submission.

The Law Council considers domestic implementation of the UNDRIP as foundational to addressing the inequality faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia, including within the justice system.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been subject to dispossession, discrimination, and significant breaches of human rights across multiple areas, historically and in contemporary Australia—not least in the protection of cultural heritage, the treatment of persons in contact with the criminal justice and child protection systems, and compulsory management of social security income.

These practices and impacts continue in the present day, including through the policies of governments and public institutions, extending cycles of intergenerational trauma, disrespect, and injustice, and contributing to broader political, economic, social, and cultural disadvantage and barriers to wellbeing and improved life expectancy.2

The need for systemic reform is critical and urgent. There is a need for a national shift in perspective that will require national leadership. The UNDRIP provides a principled framework for respecting, protecting, and fulfilling the individual and collective rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and pursuing their full participation and empowerment across the political, economic, social, and cultural apparatus of the State.

Read the full submission below.


1 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, GA Res 61/295, UN Doc
2 See Law Council of Australia, Submission to the Productivity Commission, Draft Report—Review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (online, 27 October 2023); Law Council of Australia, Submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission, Youth Justice and Child Wellbeing Reform (online, 24 July 2023); Law Council of Australia, Submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission, Concept Paper for a National Anti-Racism Framework (online, 11 February 2022); Law Council of Australia, ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’, Justice Project (Final Report, August 2018).

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