Self Determination of Indigenous Australians Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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Category: Indigenous Australians

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Self determination is a principle of International Law and it must be the basis of social and political organisation (Mazel, 2009, 150). This is an important principle in the acknowledging of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples rights. Self determination allows Indigenous peoples to independently determine their political status and gives them the freedom to economically, socially and culturally develop as according to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Maguire, 2009, 2).

Acknowledging this fundamental right is essential for Indigenous Australians to be able to preserve their culture, dignity and independence. Therefore, political, social, cultural and economical independence and freedom need to be granted to the Indigenous peoples. Arguably, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) was politically a step forward for Indigenous self determination and autonomy. ATSIC was established in 1990 and allowed Indigenous Australians, via a number of councils, to effectively govern themselves.

This gave them the opportunity to take care of their own land, education, economic development, laws and justice and a number of other issues. Aboriginals must be recognised for what they are, a peoples in their own right with their own culture, history and values (Djerrkura and Herron, 1999). Since ATSIC was abolished, the Indigenous peoples have even less political representation and their infrastructure has worsened. To maintain the traditions and culture of the Indigenous Australians, they need to be able to have the strong connection to the land that is such an integral part of who they are as a people.

The Aboriginal Land Rights legislation is a positive step forwards in this way. Also, socially there needs to be more recognition in the white Australian community of the damage that was done in past generations and there needs to be more respect for the lands original owners. As more responsibility is taken for the wrongs against the Indigenous population, and more actions are taken such as providing mental health services to help deal with this, there will be less social stigma attached to the Indigenous population.

The Australian Government implementing the Northern Territory Intervention was a direct violation of the Racial Discrimination Act and it impairs self-determination of Aboriginal communities, their ability to make certain choices about how their communities are run (Anyana, 2010). This blatant form of institutionalised racism is demoralising and takes the Indigenous Peoples dignity from them, lowering their self-esteem and essentially making the causes of excessive drinking worse.

Also, government funding is not going far enough in terms of infrastructure or providing support. Without basic needs being met such as garbage collection or emergency plumbing, the risk of disease is much higher. Most importantly, I believe that there needs to be some constitutional changes so that rights cant be revoked so easily. Also, Indigenous history, culture and customs need to be assimilated into into all compulsory education from as early as possible so that the younger generation can co-exist more harmoniously.

Another very important thing for white Australians need to do is stop trying to force westernisation onto the Indigenous people and let them be autonomous. Self determination is necessary for Indigenous cultures so that a cultural majority doesnt take over and force the old culture into extinction. Increased political independence and representation is an important step towards this, as well as encouraging their spirituality and better social integration of the diverse cultures.

It is important that the Australian government gives back the Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory the right to manage their own finances and also to economically support these remote communities infrastructural development. This principle of international law is a foundation for organisation both politically and socially because handing over the responsibility is not only a show of respect but allows Indigenous Australians to take pride in who they are.

REFERENCE LIST Mazel, O 2009, The Evolution Of Rights: Indigenous Peoples And International Law, Australian Indigenous Law Review; Volume 13, Issue 1. Maguire, A 2009, The Right of self determination to the Indigenous peoples of Australia, National Human Rights Consultation. Djerrkura, G and Herron, J 1999, Regional Autonomy for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Communities; Discussion Paper. Anyana, M. 2010, The West Australian; NT Intervention violates human rights: UN.

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