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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Compensation Payments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

Two recent court cases, one ending in a High Court decision and the other in a settlement agreement, may have significant implications for compensation payments from Australian governments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Read more...

Water Amendment (Indigenous Authority Member) Bill 2019

The Water Amendment (Indigenous Authority Member) Bill 2019 was introduced by the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, in the House of Representatives on 20 February 2019.  The Bill amends the Water Act 2007  to add an Indigenous person, referred to as the ‘standing Indigenous Authority member’, to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (the Authority). This will increase the Authority from six to seven members. The position does not preclude other Indigenous members. The Bill gives effect to a decision of the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council on 14 December 2018 that a standing Indigenous Authority member position should be... Read more...

Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2017

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2017 (the Bill), introduced in the Senate on 6 December 2017, amends the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (the Act). The Act sets out a scheme for the claiming, granting, control and management of Aboriginal land in the NT. It was closed to new claims in 1997. The Bill adds parcels of land within the Kakadu National Park, the township of Urapanga, and (in proposed amendments to the Bill) Anthony Lagoon station to the listing in Schedule 1 of the Act, enabling them to be granted as Aboriginal land, and makes other amendments to do with Kakadu's status as a National Park.  Bills which recogni... Read more...

A short history of Australia Day, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reactions to it

There has been recent and recurring public debate about the significance of Australia Day and its meaning to Indigenous Australians. This FlagPost gives a short history of both the day and of Indigenous reactions to and opinions about it. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this blog contains names and contains links to images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material. It quotes and links to historical figures' views that contain terms that would not be considered appropriate today.  Read more...

Census 2016 - Summary of results

The Census of Population and Housing paints a picture of the society in which we live and, when compared with previous censuses, we can see how we have changed.  Read more...

The 1967 Referendum

Saturday 27th of May marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum in which Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the Constitution to allow the Commonwealth to make laws for Aboriginal people and include them in the census. The referendum put the following question to the Australian people: Do you approve the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled 'An Act to alter the Constitution so as to omit certain words relating to the people of the Aboriginal race in any state so that Aboriginals are to be counted in reckoning the population'? The proposed law (Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) 1967) sought to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to make laws with r... Read more...

National Apology Day 2017

Today (13th of February) is National Apology Day, the anniversary of then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, delivering the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, especially the Stolen Generations, on the 13th of February 2008. The Apology is now considered a defining moment in Australian history. This is a separate occasion from National Sorry Day, the anniversary of Bringing them Home: the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families being tabled in parliament on the 26th of May 1997. This FlagPost covers government responses to Recommendation 5a of Bringing them Home, which recommended both apologies a... Read more...

The 25th Anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

The 15th of April 2016 marks 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its final report, which set many directions in current Indigenous policy. The commission was established in 1987 by the Hawke government, and examined 99 Indigenous deaths in custody between 1 January 1980 and 31 May 1989. The key finding of the Royal Commission was that the deaths were due to the combination of police and prisons failing their duty of care, and the high numbers of Indigenous people being arrested and incarcerated. Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners did not have different death rates.  Read more...

The vulnerability of Native Title?

Queensland v Congoo [2015] HCA 17, a recent High Court case, has implications for Native Title holders throughout the country.  It may also have implications for the High Court’s management of cases with an even number of judges. Recent changes in personnel within the High Court have led to a number of decisions being made with a bench of six, rather than the full seven, judges.  This has in turn led to some decisions being made with a 3:3 split.  In such cases, under section 23 of the Judiciary Act 1903, the decision being appealed from is left intact. The resulting judgments may be referred to as having a ‘statutory majority’, which offers less precede... Read more...

Aboriginal advantage: an insider look at an Aboriginal community

In his National Reconciliation Week lecture to the Parliamentary Library, Dr Lawrence Bamblett, Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, proposed an alternative way of understanding life in Aboriginal communities through the concept of Aboriginal advantage. He declared, ‘You can all do a lot to help us by changing the way that you talk about us’. Dr Bamblett’s academic, teaching and community development work explores relationships between identity, representation and engagement in Aboriginal communities. He explains that telling positive stories can both change the unfavourable image that many Australians have of Aborig... Read more...

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