Call to Parties: Change needed to advance Indigenous rights

The QLS Call to Parties consultation draft for the 2020 state election seeks urgent change to the way in which government implements policies and laws which affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It proposes that there must be clear action and accountability to ensure that recommendations from previous consultations, inquiries, reports and recommendations are implemented and progressed.

QLS members are invited to provide feedback on this and other issues raised in the document, which has been drafted by the QLS legal policy team in consultation with QLS legal policy committees.

It also calls for a commitment to:

  • Meaningful ongoing conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Queensland about continuing the ‘path to treaty’ process. In continuing this process, it is critical that:

    • Governments undertake adequate due diligence and consult and engage with the right community member/s and Elders to speak on behalf of their communities.
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples frameworks should be utilised as a primary tool with the standard mode of government consultation processes supporting these frameworks, including ensuring that there are culturally respectful consultation timeframes which recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ways of decision making.
    • The processes are sufficiently supported to ensure the cultural and psychological safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contributors, whether they are staff, community members or otherwise.
    • Consideration be given to financial compensation to compensate contributors to the process for their time and out-of-pocket expenses in regularly contributing their time, knowledge and expertise to these processes.
  • The foundations for a path toward Treaty should be informed by the extensive work, proposals and recommendations which have already been undertaken to date; including the 2017 National Constitution Convention of ‘The Uluru Statement From The Heart’ and the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 2015. To ensure these reforms are informed and guided by First Nations’ decision makers, QLS calls for the establishment of:

    • a First Nations peoples’ representative council for Queensland whose members are elected by their communities to facilitate a stronger link between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
    • an independent First Nations Ombudsman with an audit function with respect to the First Nations peoples’ representative council and with the power to receive and resolve complaints from Aboriginal and First Nations peoples who are impacted by decisions of all public authorities.
  • Ensuring that community controlled services are adequately resourced and funded to meet service delivery demands, particularly in the context of emerging issues and services needed arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Implementing a statutory requirement in Queensland, under which police must contact an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal service whenever an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is detained in custody for any reasons, including protective reasons. This is consistent with the recommendation of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s ‘Pathways to Justice–Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ (ALRC Report 133) (28 March 2018).

Members are invited to review the Call to Parties draft consultation document and provide their feedback to policy@qls.com.au by 13 August 2020. The Queensland state election is due to be held on 31 October.

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