COMMITTEE ON ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION CONSIDERS REPORT OF AUSTRALIA 11 August 2010 The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has considered the combined fifteenth through seventeenth periodic reports of Australia on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Presenting the report, Peter Woolcott, Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said there had been a number of significant developments in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs in Australia in recent years. In February 2008, the then Prime Minister delivered the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples, particularly, the Stolen Generation, for past government policies that resulted in profound grief, suffering and loss on the part of Indigenous Australians. In April 2009, Australia announced its support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in August 2009 Australia was pleased to welcome the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous peoples to the State. In November 2009 Australia also welcomed the Special Rapporteur on the right to health. According to Mr. Woolcott, the Council of Australian Governments had agreed to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage. In support of this, the Council had set six specific targets, including: closing the gap in life expectancy, child mortality rates, access to early childhood education, children’s reading, writing and numeracy, year 12 attainment, and employment outcomes. In addition, in November 2009 the Australian Government agreed to support the Indigenous representative body known as the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, to address some of the Committee’s concerns voiced in 2005 regarding the importance of the representative participation of Indigenous peoples. In preliminary concluding observations, Jose Francisco Cali Tzay, the Committee Expert who served as country Rapporteur for the report of Australia, said that for the next report the Committee would request a definition of multiculturalism, information on the status of refugees and an update on the situation of international students and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Committee would also need statistics to help better understand the situation in Australia, and further information on the country’s reservation to Article 4 (a) and special measures. Other Committee Experts raised questions and asked for further information on subjects pertaining to, among other things, the preservation of Indigenous languages and bilingual education in schools, the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, the collection of biometric data, the status of minority women, racial and ethnic profiling, the disproportionate number of Indigenous people in prisons, the Northern Territory Emergency Response and the reestablishment of the Racial Discrimination Act, the procedures for native land title claims, and the composition and methods of work for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
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- Government, Indigenous Australians