Posted on 21 August 2012


The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress) says its two-day forum will help inform an international study on extractive industries by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

The UN Special Rapporteur, Professor James Anaya, is being hosted by Congress while in Australia.

Congress Co-Chairs Jody Broun and Les Malezer said the first day saw Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives from peak organisations, communities, traditional owners and NGOs come together to discuss human rights, the work of the United Nations and the relationship between these and development on Aboriginal land.

The second day will bring around 85 participants to the round table including senior members of industry and government.

“This is an important forum where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can have strong and frank input into the study and that will help establish international standards where mining occurs,” said Ms Broun.

“The first day was important for our peoples to discuss key priorities including the legal framework; self determination and capacity building; culture, heritage and economic development and what we see as the way forward,” she said.

“There is already a great deal of experience to be shared among our peoples. Communities across Australia have been negotiating for decades to have control over mining and major developments on or near their territories. And where mining might be negotiated on mutually agreed terms between communities and private corporations then of course our communities are looking to achieve economic, social, cultural and political benefits for their peoples,” said Mr Malezer.

“The mining boom in Australia means that now more than ever, our peoples need to be prepared and informed on the impacts of mining, the options are available to them to control those impacts, and the benefits that should be shared with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We are very interested to hear from industry and government. These responses will contribute to Professor Anaya’s United Nations study as well as assist Congress to report to our delegates at the forthcoming National Congress meeting,” he said.

Representatives from across Australia include Aboriginal communities, National and State Native Title Representative Bodies, Land Councils, major mining companies and senior departmental government representatives from Attorney General’s department, FaHCSIA and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Professor Megan Davis and other United Nations officials were on the agenda, which also included an address by the Special Rapporteur and presentations from Professors Marcia Langton (UoM) and Mick Dodson (ANU); Sonia Smallacombe (UN), Geoff Scott (NSWALC),Brian Wyatt (NNTC) and Kevin Smith (QSNTS).

A full list of participants, the agenda, summaries of discussions and background papers will soon be available on the website

List of Participant Organisations
ANU National Centre For Indigenous Studies
Attorney General’s Department
Australian Conservation Foundation
Australian Human Rights Commission
Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association
BHP Billiton
Cape York NRM
Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining
Department of Resources, Energy & Tourism
Fortescue Mining Group
Generation One
Goldfields Land and Sea Council
Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (Mirrar Peoples)
Human Rights Law Centre Victoria
Indigenous Land Corporation
Indigenous Law Centre, UNSW
Jabba Jabba peoples
KRED Enterprises
Madjulla Inc
Minerals Council of Australia
National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
National Native Title Council
Native Title Services Victoria
New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council
Newcrest Mining Ltd
North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance
North Queensland Land Council
Northern Land Council
NSW Native Title Services Corporation
Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights
Oxfam Australia
Queensland South Native Title Services
Rio Tinto Iron Ore
Sinclair Knight Merz Group
University Of Melbourne
Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation