Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Australia's Indigenous Peoples Fight for Constitutional Recognition

"Australia's Indigenous Peoples Fight for Constitutional Recognition, "

Image from article , with caption: Traditional aboriginal dancers perform a ceremony, Sydney, Australia, Jan. 26, 2016

In an email interview, Libby Porter, a principal research fellow at RMIT University in Melbourne, discusses indigenous rights in Australia. ...
WPR: What is public opinion toward Australia’s indigenous peoples, how big of an issue are indigenous rights politically, and what impact does the issue have on Australia’s foreign policy and public diplomacy?
Porter: Public opinion toward aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is divided. Significant gains have been made with regard to the return of some stolen lands, aboriginal representation in politics, and the visibility and presence of aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in public life. There is also widespread celebration of both traditional and contemporary forms of aboriginal art, dance, music and culture. Together, these make a very positive contribution to society and help Australians better understand indigenous culture.
Yet Australia remains a profoundly racially segregated country, and the roots of racism run very deep. Rates of imprisonment of indigenous people are rising, as are related deaths in custody, and the practice of removing aboriginal children from their homes and communities continues. The Northern Territory Intervention, which subjects aboriginal families to discriminatory forms of surveillance and management in response to allegations of child sexual abuse and neglect among aboriginal families, enjoys bipartisan and public support. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights finds regular fault with Australia’s approach to indigenous rights, most recently condemning the cruel treatment of children in detention in the Northern Territory. While many of these issues cause brief stirs in the media, indigenous affairs are rarely a significant election issue.

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