Application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Australia

June 18, 2022

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is the leading international legal instrument governing the rights of Indigenous peoples. 

EJA made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee’s inquiry into the application of UNDRIP in Australia. 

A genuine implementation of UNDRIP principles into environmental law should extend Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander control, access to and management of natural resources, and strengthen protection of Country. Australia endorsed the Declaration in 2009, after initial resistance, but has made limited progress in the domestic application of the principles since then.

It is critical that environmental laws acknowledge Traditional Owners’ roles in caring for Country, establish genuine procedural rights in environmental decision making and correct the historical pattern of dispossession from natural resource management. 

EJA recommended: 

  1. Reform the EBPC Act to provide greater control and agency for Traditional Owners over environmental protection, planning and approvals.
  2. Overhaul Indigenous consultation obligations for water management and access, consistent with UNDRIP standards.
  3. Establish legal mechanisms to support full, prior and informed consent as integral to consultation processes with Traditional Owners.
  4. Properly resource Indigenous organisations as parties to water management.
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