Australian community guide to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Community Guide to the UN Declaration to help Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to understand and protect their rights were launched Dec. 13 in Sydney by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda.

The community guide aims to bring the Declaration to life by highlighting examples of Indigenous peoples’ rights in action.

“Twenty years of hard work by Australian Indigenous leaders, including . . . has helped deliver to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples this blueprint for ensuring our rights are protected in every aspect of our lives,” Commissioner Gooda said.

“These materials will help to lift the concepts of the Declaration off the page and make them real for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“These are rights many Australians take for granted but the reality is that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are still being taught in classrooms with dirt floors, or living in overcrowded housing where water and sewerage facilities are second rate.

“These materials will help give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities a starting point from which they can work to bring about practical improvements in their lives.”

“The Declaration is one of the most important documents that sets out our human rights as Indigenous peoples and I will be using it to guide my work during my term,” Commissioner Gooda said.

“I urge communities and individuals to use these Declaration materials in their advocacy work – it is only by using the Declaration that we can give it meaning,” Commissioner Gooda said.

Those are good words for Indigenous Peoples in all nations of the world. They will have to work to give the Declaration real meaning in their countries and lives.

In Bolivia, for example, the national legislature adopted the Declaration as national law. I have not heard any examples of what that has led to, but it certainly looks like that country is going to apply the Declaration in a concrete and substantive manner.

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