Queensland Law Society

Advancing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

QLS calls for urgent change to the way government implements policies and laws which affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

There must be clear action and accountability to ensure that recommendations from previous consultations, inquiries, reports and recommendations are implemented and progressed.

QLS calls for a commitment to:

  1. Meaningful ongoing conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Queensland about continuing the ‘path to treaty’ process. In continuing this process, it is critical that:
    1. governments undertake adequate due diligence and consult and engage with the right Community member/s and Elders to speak on behalf of their Communities;
    2. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples frameworks are utilised as a primary tool, with the standard mode of government consultation processes supporting these frameworks, including ensuring that there are culturally respectful consultation timeframes which recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ways of decision making:
    3. the processes are sufficiently supported to ensure the cultural and psychological safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contributors, whether they are staff, community members or otherwise;
    4. consideration be given to financial compensation to compensate contributors to the process for their time and out-of-pocket expenses in regularly contributing their time, knowledge and expertise to these processes.
  2. The foundations for a path toward Treaty should be informed by the extensive work, proposals and recommendations which have already been undertaken to date; including the 2017 National Constitutional Convention of ‘The Uluru Statement From The Heart’ and the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 2015. To ensure these reforms are informed and guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander decision makers, QLS calls for the establishment of:
    1. An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ representative council for Queensland whose members are elected by their Communities to facilitate a stronger link between Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities;
    2. an independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ombudsman with an audit function with respect to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ representative council and with the power to receive and resolve complaints from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who are impacted by decisions of all public authorities.

3.    The efficient and effective resolution of native title compensation claims, including:

  1. Early, comprehensive and free access to all tenure information held by the State that relates to extinguishing acts done prior to the commencement of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). This will assist Traditional Owners in case preparation and settlement negotiations.
  2. A commitment that, where there is a contiguous native title determination (often by way of consent), the State will admit that that native title would exist but for the compensable act. This would reduce the number of issues to be resolved.
  3. A commitment to enter into good faith negotiations to explore comprehensive settlements, rather than a piecemeal ‘lot by lot’ approach.

4.    Ensuring that Community Controlled Services are adequately resourced and funded to meet service delivery demands, particularly in the context of emerging issues and services needed arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

5.    Implementing a statutory requirement in Queensland under which police must contact an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal service whenever an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is detained in custody for any reason, including protective reasons. This is consistent with the recommendation of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s “Pathways to Justice–Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples” (ALRC Report 133) (tabled 28 March 2018).