Australia's progress on Closing that Bloody Big Gap 'Woefully Inadequate', UN says

'Close the Gap' Australia

18 September, 2017

The United Nations has described Australia's lack of progress on Closing the Gap as "woefully inadequate", saying the over-incarceration of Indigenous people is a major human rights concern.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz said it was unacceptable that despite two decades of economic growth, Australia had not been able to improve the social disadvantage of its Indigenous population.

She said the United Nations supported the call for a referendum to establish a First Nations advisory body in the constitution and urged the Federal Government to establish a treaties and truth-telling commission.

"Such measures would carry momentous significance to resetting the relationship with the First Peoples of Australia," Ms Tauli-Corpuz said.

The Special Rapporteur's report also recommended the Federal Government adopt new targets to reduce violence against women and rates of incarceration and child removal.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz said the detention of young Indigenous children was "the most distressing aspect of her visit" to Australia.

"Detention of those children has become so prevalent in certain communities that some parents referred to it as an achievement that none of their children has been taken into custody so far," she wrote.

Australiia 'closing the gap'

"The extraordinarily high rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, including women and children, is a major human rights concern.

"There have been allegations of serious abuses, including violent strip-searches, teargassing, hooding and prolonged isolation committed against Aboriginal children in custody."

She said the lack of progress to improve education, health and employment standards for Indigenous people had fuelled "escalating" rates of incarceration and child removal.

The Special Rapporteur's report said a plan of action to address high rates of Indigenous incarceration was a "national priority".

"The current claim by the Government that matters relating to incarceration remain the sole prerogative of states is untenable in the severe," she said.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz praised the Children's Koori Court in Victoria, which brings young offenders in front of a panel of elders and aims to reduce imprisonment and recidivism.

"Such culturally sensitive processes could significantly reduce recidivism rates if extended to other jurisdictions," she said.

Source: Bridget Brennan ABC News