On October 2nd 2023 Noongar Family Safety and Wellbeing Council hosted Day 2 of the Expert on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Country Engagement Mission to Western Australia Workshop in Perth.
The workshop was well attended with 40 plus in attendance on the day, we heard from distinguished delegates Sheryl Lightfoot from Canada, who is the EMRIP Chair and Head of Mission, and Dr Valmaine Toki from New Zealand,Catherine Liddle CEO SNAICC and Kathleen Pinkerton Deputy Chairperson SNAICC, Dr Hannah McGlade Associate Professor, Curtin School of Law and our own Managing Director Barbara Henry NFSWC.
The EMRIPS visit to Australia was in response to a request from Noongar Family Safety and Wellbeing Council. The EMRIP delegates also visited Albany and Geraldton during their time in WA to meet with Government, organisations, community members and affected families. Providing advice in relation to the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and communities.
I would like to thank all in attendance for sharing their insights and journeys and a special thank you to Elder Elizabeth Hayden a proud Balladong Wilman woman of the Noongar Nation for her beautiful welcome to country.
Statement from the United Nations Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Concludes Visit to Australia
GENEVA (11 October 2023) – The United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) undertook a country engagement mission to Australia from 1 to 10 October 2023. The members of the mechanism who participated in the mission were Sheryl Lightfoot, Chair of EMRIP and Head of Mission, and Valmaine Toki, EMRIP member from the Pacific.
This country engagement was undertaken in response to a request from the Noongar Family Safety and Wellbeing Council in the State of Western Australia to provide advice in relation to the contemporary removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and communities under the EMRIP’s amended mandate, Human Rights Council Resolution 33/25.
The rights of Indigenous Peoples are contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in particular Article 2 (non-discrimination), Articles 3 and 4 (self-determination), Article 8 (forced assimilation), and Article 10 (removal of people from traditional lands and territories).
During its mission, the EMRIP travelled to Perth, Albany and Geraldton in Western Australia, where it met with the requesters, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from different communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organizations, NGOs, state, judicial, legal officials, academia and others. The delegation also visited out of home care facilities.
As agreed by both parties, the EMRIP will provide an advisory note in the coming months on the issue of contemporary child removal.
The EMRIP would like to thank the requesters, for proposing the country engagement mission, for hosting many of the meetings together with Aboriginal organizations and Aboriginal peoples and NGOs and the Member State for its full cooperation and positive engagement during this process.
This was the fourth country mission out of the sixth country engagements undertaken by the EMRIP under this amended mandate.
The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) is a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Council mandated to provide the Council with expertise and advice on the rights of indigenous peoples as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and assist Member States, upon request, in achieving the ends of the Declaration through the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the rights of indigenous peoples.
Further information on the Expert Mechanism, can be found here.