UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Australia (CERD 26-12-2017)

The Committee considered the eighteenth to twentieth periodic reports of Australia (CERD/C/AUS/18-20), submitted in a single document, at its 2596th and 2597th meetings (see CERD/C/SR.2596 and 2597), held on 27 and 28 November 2017. At its 2610th and 2611th meetings, held on 6 and 7 December 2017, it adopted the present concluding observations.

Concluding observations

C. Concerns and recommendations

Socioeconomic situation of indigenous peoples

  1. The Committee is deeply concerned that indigenous peoples continue to experience high levels of discrimination across all socioeconomic indicators, including education, health care, employment and housing. Among other things, the Committee is concerned about the low life expectancy, low level of school attainment and high dropout rates at all school levels, and poor housing conditions, including overcrowding, especially for those living in the Northern Territory, where the homelessness rate is nearly 15 times the national average. The Committee is also concerned that indigenous peoples, including those living in remote areas, face discrimination in access to social security benefits, notably through the mandatory income-management scheme and the community development programme. The Committee is also concerned about the reportedly high rate of suicide among indigenous peoples, and in particular lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex individuals. The Committee is further concerned about the lack of specific programmes for indigenous peoples with disabilities.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State:                                      

(a) Effectively implement well-resourced policies that aim to improve the socioeconomic situation of indigenous peoples, including the Remote Housing Strategy (2016); the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023; the Remote School Attendance Strategy; and the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education;

(b) Adopt and implement other adequately resourced programmes, including specific programmes for indigenous peoples with disabilities, in consultation with them, and increase support for, and investment in, indigenous community-controlled health services and programmes that promote indigenous employment in the health sector;                                        

(c) Reconsider the mandatory income-management scheme, which in effect disproportionally affects indigenous peoples, maintain only an opt-in income-management scheme and remove discriminatory conditions in access to social security benefits by claimants living in remote areas, the vast majority of whom are indigenous;                                      

(d) Collect data disaggregated by ethnicity, indigenous peoples, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity, on the extent of suicide and report on the measures adopted to address it.

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