The Northern Territory Intervention and the Racial Discrimination Act

December 2010

 The Board of Management of Social Policy Connections endorsed the following statement on the 4th December concerning the Racial Discrimination Act on behalf of its members, following an address by the Hon. Alastair Nicholson.


“The Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), as it was amended in the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination) Act 2010, will come into effect on 31st December 2010. However, Social Policy Connections (SPC) considers this legislation to be incomplete and that such vital aspects of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) cannot be relegated to “special measures”. The Act, as it stands, will not provide protection against racial discrimination. Amendments to this legislation “reinstating” the RDA in its original determination are urgently needed.

 Social Policy Connections calls upon the Federal government to withdraw the present discriminatory legislation and unconditionally to “reinstate” the RDA. We also call on the government to ensure that any future welfare reform is non-discriminatory and does not impinge on the rights of any recipient. Further, we ask that the NTER measures be reviewed to ensure that they fully comply with the RDA, together with our obligations under human rights standards, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

 We note that SPC is one of many organisations to take this stand, including: the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the National Council of Churches in Australia, the Uniting Church of Australia, Franciscans International (General Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC), Edmund Rice International, Foundation for Marist Solidarity International, and the Good Shepherd Mission & Justice Unit.

We stand in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of Australia, and commit ourselves to take action to support their human rights and their rights as Australian citizens.

 Peter Whiting

SPC President, on behalf of SPC members and Board of Management

 Social Policy Connections is an independent, ecumenical, social justice advocacy group. It is a non-profit organisation, motivated and informed by Christian social teaching. SPC aims to expand awareness of social justice issues in Australia, and to influence public policy for the benefit of all people, especially the most disadvantaged.