Media Release: Stronger Futures Legislation (NT)
For immediate release 17 October 2014
‘Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) welcomes the current review by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights of the Stronger Futures legislation’ says Nathan Kennedy, President of ALHR. ‘ALHR agrees with the Committee that the government needs to demonstrate, rather than simply state, how the measures contained in the legislation are a proportionate response to the perceived problems.’
‘Failing such evidence, it would appear that the differential treatment reflected in the legislation is indirectly discriminatory, because it is predominantly applied in relation to Aboriginal people so as to restrict their human rights to self determination, to non-discrimination, to privacy and to equal access to social security.’
‘There appears to have been no consideration by government of any alternative, less intrusive, possibilities – such as providing adequate resources to isolated communities – and minimal meaningful consultation with affected communities to explore alternative options.’
‘We are particularly concerned that the removal of welfare payments for children’s non-attendance at school effectively imposes a penalty upon the whole family, including the children, when there may be various valid reasons for the child not attending school – including lack of adequate school facilities – which lie outside the ability of the child and their family to remedy.’
‘ALHR believes that a human rights framework will strengthen legislation that is aimed to assist Australia’s indigenous people by appropriately balancing the government’s various obligations. The Stronger Futures legislation does not appear to reflect an appropriate balance and effectively penalises those people who are subject to the restrictions in the legislation, without providing them with assistance or resources’ said Mr Kennedy.
Phone: 0417 267 143
ALHR (Australian Lawyers for Human Rights) is a network of Australian lawyers active in practising and promoting awareness of international human rights standards in Australia. ALHR has a national membership of over 2,500 people, with active National, State and Territory committees.