INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS

Senator BARTLETT (Queensland) (10.02 a.m.)—I, and also on behalf of Senator Siewert, move the motion as amended:

That the Senate—
(a)
notes that:
(i)
27 May 2007 marks the 40th anniversary of the referendum giving the Federal Government the right to make specific laws in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to count them in the census, and
(ii)
the referendum was passed with an unprecedented level of support from more than 90 per cent of Australians, and is a great example of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people working together in support of equal rights for Indigenous people;
(b)
recognises the continuing need for the legislative and other powers of the Commonwealth and other levels of government to be used to redress the profound economic and social disadvantage continuing to be experienced by many Indigenous Australians;
(c)
acknowledges that although important gains have been made since 1967 Indigenous Australians remain the singularly most disadvantaged group in Australia;
(d)
notes, in particular, the facts that Indigenous Australians:
(i)
still have an average life expectancy that is 17 years less than that of their non-Indigenous counterparts,
(ii)
represent only 2.5 per cent of the Australian population but represent more than 22 per cent of people in Australian prisons and even more of those taken into police custody, and
(iii)
experience an unemployment rate more than three times that of non-Indigenous Australians and enjoy an average income only two-thirds the national average;
(e)
commits to giving greater priority to addressing the needs of Indigenous Australians and to paying greater heed to the diverse views, abilities and achievements of Indigenous Australians from all parts of our nation;
(f)
recognises that Australia will not reach its full potential as a nation until there is full respect for all its people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their unique, valuable and continuing heritage of this land; and
(g)
encourages all Australians and all political parties to revive and rebuild the cooperative spirit of the 1967 referendum to complete the unfinished business of ensuring true equality of opportunity for all Australians.
Question agreed to.

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