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DownUnderAllOver

DownUnderAllOver

Developments around the country

DownUnderAllOver is a round-up of legal news from both State and federal jurisdictions, and contains topical articles and short pieces from Alternative Law Journal committees around the country.

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Independent National Security Legislation Monitor appointed

Ben Schokman
Human Rights

The Australian government has appointed Bret Walker SC as the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor. The role of the Monitor, appointed under the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act 2010 (Cth), is to review and report on the operation, effectiveness and implications of Australia’s counter terrorism and national security legislation on an ongoing basis.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 127

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Reflection on 20 years since Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody

Ben Schokman
Human Rights

15 April 2011 saw the 20th anniversary of the release of the report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Commission’s report highlighted the systemic disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which resulted in their higher rates of incarceration and the high rate of subsequent deaths in custody.

Many of the Royal Commission’s recommendations related to the criminal justice system, and required ongoing liaison between different government agencies. The principal thrust of the 333 recommendations was directed towards the elimination of disadvantage, empowerment and self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Twenty years on however, many of the Royal Commission’s recommendations have never been implemented and the deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody continue to be of concern.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 127

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New co-chairs for National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

Ben Schokman
Human Rights

Respected Indigenous leaders, Les Malezer and Jody Broun have been elected co-chairs of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Mr Malezer said Australia’s first peoples exercising the right to unreservedly elect their own national leaders, in their own national organisation, was a historical occasion. ‘As such it is the very first step towards self-determination, which is our political right, our human right, our inherent right and our right to equality with all other peoples of the world including the peoples of the Australian nation,’ Mr Malezer said.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 127

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A government committed to fairness and accountability should strengthen our Charter of Rights

Philip Lynch
Human Rights
The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities has attracted a range of dubious claims from politicians and others, being described as everything from 'powerful' and 'transformative' to 'dangerous' and 'weak'.

The Charter is now being reviewed by the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee ('SARC'); public submissions close on 1 July. Respect for human rights is essential for a community that is fair, just and inclusive. Where human rights are promoted and protected in law they are more likely to be respected and protected on the ground. The legal protection of rights is particularly important for vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, such as people who are homeless, people with mental illness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and people with disability.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 127

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Refugee status

Sunili Govinnage
Federal

The Migration Act 1958 (Cth) provides that people entering Australia in the 'excised' offshore migration zone are 'unlawful non-citizens'. Under s 46A(1) of the Act, these people cannot make a valid application for a protection visa unless the Minister allows them that privilege. Asylum seekers who arrive by boat must first prove to the Minister (by way of assessment by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship) that they are refugees under the UN Refugee Convention before they are allowed to apply for a protection visa.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 128

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