Ms. Julia Gillard, - Prime Minister
Mr. Tony Abbott – Leader of the Opposition.
Dear Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition,
How rediculous that we still do not recognise the original owners of this land – Australia in the consitution and it is time for you to do something about it after the election.
Unity Party WA
Environmental friendly - save the trees - use email.
UPWA is the only political party that calls a spade a spade.
Indigenous leaders rally for recognition
Source: The Australian
ALMOST a half-century after Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders won the right to be counted as Australian citizens, indigenous leaders are again preparing to rally for recognition.
Veteran activist Lowitja O'Donoghue, who remembers well the campaign for the 1967 referendum, is urging a new generation of Australians to push for recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Australians in the Constitution.
"We have just missed out, haven't we?'' she said. "We just don't have that recognition. Everything in Aboriginal affairs takes forever. We hoped it wouldn't take as long, but it does, and we just have to keep working on it."
Ms O'Donoghue said she did not want to see a repeat of the decade-long campaign needed before the 1967 referendum, which resulted in a 91 per cent yes vote.
"This time around, what I have noticed is the young people are the people who are now keen to actually get on board and so that really excites me," she said. "They need to step up, get out where the rubber hits the road. I think they are getting that message."
Tanya Hosch, deputy national director for the campaign for constitutional recognition, said activists such as Ms O'Donoghue had paved the way for a younger generation of leaders to continue the push for equal rights.
"It is people like Lowitja and others who have been just amazing, strident campaigners for decades and decades - not just on this issue but on many - and they have really laid the groundwork for us to be at this unique point in our nation's history right now where you can really feel that groundswell of support coming from Australian people," Ms Hosch said.
"That doesn't happen by accident; it takes an enormous amount of dedication from people who have, like Lowitja, spent their whole lives making sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are treated fairly."
The Recognise campaign is making the case for constitutional recognition ahead of a referendum that had been slated for this year's federal election but last year was postponed. "We know that the Constitution doesn't change itself," Ms Hosch said.
"It is a difficult task so we need all Australians to come on board and help us.
"We need to get out there and meet as many people as possible."
Ms Hosch said the referendum would take place when it was assured of success. "We hope that is sooner rather than later," she said.
"We should be bold and work towards getting this question in our constitution resolved in the next few years."
Report finds explosion in Aboriginal prisoners
Aboriginal leaders have warned of a crisis in the justice system with an explosion in the indigenous prison population, a spike in the number of juveniles being detained and the continuing high rate of deaths in custody.
A major report released on Friday by the federal government has confirmed that the number of Aborigines in prisons and police custody over the past two decades has more than doubled to almost 8000.
The Australian Institute of Criminology report details more than 325 indigenous deaths in custody since a royal commission into the problem reported in 1991.
It also shows that 97 per cent of juveniles in custody in the Northern Territory are Aborigines - a doubling since 2007. In Western Australia, Aborigines comprise more than two-thirds of juveniles in detention.
Two in every five deaths in juvenile justice custody since 1980 have been indigenous prisoners. And figures gathered by the University of Technology, Sydney, indicate young Aborigines are placed in detention at 31 times the rate of non-indigenous youth.
Former Australian of the Year and ANU law professor Mick Dodson said it was ''absolutely shocking'' that indigenous people were 11 times more likely to be jailed than non-indigenous people across mainland Australia, and 18.3 per cent more likely in Western Australia.
Professor Larissa Behrendt, of the University of Technology, said the high indigenous imprisonment rates, and particularly the increasing numbers of juveniles and women being detained, was a cause for national alarm.
She said the problem was being made worse by tough state ''law and order'' campaigns and the continuing impact of the federal government's 2007 emergency intervention in the Northern Territory.
''The royal commission showed what needed to be done to fix this but its recommendations are not being followed,'' she said.
The Institute of Criminology report claimed progress in the management of deaths in custody, with figures indicating indigenous prisoners were ''no more likely to die in prison custody than non-indigenous persons'' and with a decline in the number of suicides in custody, particularly by hanging.
Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus claimed the report confirmed that indigenous ''death-in-custody rates have decreased significantly in the past decade. These encouraging findings are the result of efforts across governments, police and prison authorities to address deaths in custody and minimise risk of self-harm, but there is still more to be done.''
But the report said the 14 indigenous deaths in prisons recorded in 2009-10 equalled the highest annual death rate on record. There were another 12 prison deaths in 2010-11.
''While it is important to place the number of deaths in the context of the number of people in prison, it should not be overlooked that the number of indigenous deaths in prison custody in recent years has again started to rise,'' it said.
It said indigenous prisoners were dying at younger ages than non-indigenous prisoners and predominantly from natural causes, reflecting the poorer health and lower life expectancy of Aborigines.
The royal commission, which spent almost four years and more than $40 million investigating 99 cases of Aboriginal deaths in custody, found there were ''too many Aboriginal people in custody too often''.
The Institute of Criminology report echoed the royal commission's view: ''At the heart of the problem is the over-representation of indigenous persons at every stage of the criminal justice system.''