Human rights protections
The distinct cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are protected by Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019. Queensland is the first Australian jurisdiction to specifically list this right in legislation.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are also protected from racial discrimination while at work, in school or university, buying goods or services, and in fields of insurance and superannuation, under the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.
At a national level, the Australian Human Rights Commission has functions under the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975, as well as producing annual reports on Native Title and on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice. This work is led by June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.
Internationally, the rights of the world's Indigenous peoples are protected and promoted by the United Nations.
Australia is a member of the United Nations and is:
- A signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ;
- A signatory to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
- A member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues.
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a positive, aspirational document that sets out ambitions for a new partnership and relationship between Indigenous peoples and the government. It is significant because Indigenous peoples, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, were involved in drafting it. The Declaration:
- affirms that indigenous peoples make a unique contribution to the diversity and richness of civilisations and cultures, and promotes cultural diversity and understanding;
- explicitly encourages harmonious and cooperative relations between States and indigenous peoples, as well as mechanisms to support this at the international and national levels; and
- is based upon principles of partnership, consultation and cooperation between indigenous peoples and States.
Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner stated:
The Declaration is a positive document that maps out a path for Indigenous peoples to be free from discrimination and secure in our identities and life choices.