This Reconciliation Week, Save the Children Australia is reiterating its support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a clear and urgent call for reform, to be implemented in full.
Save the Children has worked alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for over 65 years and recognise the importance of First Nations leadership and ownership in shaping the policies that impact them.
Paul Ronalds, CEO of Save the Children Australia said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children should be involved in the design of the Voice to Parliament.
“The necessary steps have still not been taken in Australia to give effect to the rights of First Nations people in our policy, our laws or our Constitution.”
“To this day, Australia does not support self-determination or fully recognise the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children which include rights to connection to family and culture, and voice.”
“The failure to implement the Uluru Statement is a tragedy for all of us that support Treaty and truth-telling, and wish to pursue reconciliation as a nation.”
“The greatest tragedy however is the continued injustice that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children suffer as a result of their rights being denied.”
In its submission to the Indigenous Voice Discussion Paper Save the Children supports First Nations peoples in the call for a Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the Constitution.
Practice Development Manager for Save the Children, Mena Waller says the it is essential that voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait children are heard through the design process for the First Nations Voice to Parliament.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children need to be consulted at all stages of the process, through design, development and implementation,” Ms Waller said.
“It is important to ensure that consultation with children is not a one-off, but is a minimum standard that is embedded throughout government decision-making.”
“In a reconciled Australia, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children would attain their rights and be able to reach their full potential.”
“Self-determination is not only a right of First Nations people, including their children, but is it also a necessary part of the pathway to healing.”
“We must not repeat the ignorance of the past. Decisions should not be made that profoundly affect children, their families and communities without their full participation, involvement and agency.”
Save the Children supports First Nations peoples call for the combined objectives of the Uluru Statement, which include legislative change to establish a Makarrata Commission and for the Commission to supervise agreement-making and oversee a process of truth-telling, to be considered at the same time.
Save the Children Australia made 6 recommendations in its submission to the Indigenous Voice codesign process undertaken by the National Indigenous Australians Agency. They include:
Recommendation 1: The design of the National Voice to Parliament must be consistent with the Uluru Statement. It should include the ability to promote Treaty and truth-telling as part of the Makarrata Commission.
Recommendation 2: Alongside the development of the National Voice to Parliament, Australia must incorporate the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) into domestic law. That should involve the development of a plan and an independent body to oversee its implementation, in partnership and consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Recommendation 3: Australia must ensure that the National Voice to Parliament is reflective of the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, in a manner consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Proposals should be made available in languages designed for children and consultation undertaken in a way that promotes children’s voices and participation.
Recommendation 4: Australia must fully incorporate the Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic legislation and policy.
Recommendation 5: Australia must ratify the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure.
Recommendation 6: The Voice to Parliament must be enshrined in the Constitution, consistent with the Uluru Statement.
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