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Sunday, May 26, 2019
SYDNEY, Dec 30 2014 (IPS) - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders comprise 2.5 per cent (some 548,370) of Australia’s 24-million strong population, but they are not recognised by the Constitution.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Act 2013 (Act of Recognition) acknowledges indigenous peoples’ unique place as Australia’s first peoples.
Recently, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott vowed to “sweat blood” to secure constitutional recognition for indigenous people with the hope of holding a referendum in May 2017, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum that approved constitutional amendments relating to Indigenous people.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have suffered centuries of discrimination, still face inequality in health, education, income and housing. Many of these challenges are human rights issues and they are at the core of indigenous disadvantage, experts say.
Mick Gooda, a descendent of the Gangulu people from the Dawson Valley in central Queensland, is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The post of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner was created by the federal parliament in 1992, in response to three key inquiries – the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody; a Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission Inquiry into racial hatred; and the Native Title Act – which contributed to raising awareness about the extreme social and economic disadvantage and injustice faced by Indigenous peoples.
Gooda has been a strong advocate for the recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia for over 25 years. He spoke to IPS following the launch of his annual Social Justice and Native Title Report in Sydney.
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