By Glen Klatovsky
27 May – 3 June is National Reconciliation Week, with the theme ‘Grounded in Truth – Walk Together with Courage’.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced his new cabinet line-up, with Ken Wyatt MP making history as the first Indigenous Australian to be a member of Cabinet and Indigenous Affairs Minister.
At the same time, right now the threat to First Nations rights and country couldn’t be higher.
Support these courageous fights.
One of the major criticisms of the Adani mega coal mine has always been that its approval will trash Indigenous land rights.
Last week, we saw the Queensland Government buckling under political pressure to deliver approvals to Adani, announcing an expedited timeline to push through approvals for Adani’s groundwater and endangered black-throated finch plans.
On Monday morning, the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council appeared in court, resuming their defence of country. Whether Adani gets access to the land belonging to the Wangan and Jagalingou remains one of the crucial blocks to the coal mining company’s progress.
The Wangan and Jagalingou have said ‘no’ to Adani four times, while Adani have actively worked to divide their people to claim they consent to the mine. The Wangan and Jagalingou are also trying to prevent the Queensland Government extinguishing their native title.
They are fighting a momentous battle, and are asking those who care about land rights to donate generously at this dire time.
Even further north in Australia, another historic legal challenge is taking place. Torres Strait Islanders are bringing the first climate change case against the Australian federal government over human rights.
Supported by the region’s land and sea council Gur A Baradharaw Kod (GBK) and represented by lawyers with leading environmental law non-profit ClientEarth, Torres Strait Islanders are taking a climate change complaint against Australia to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations.
The Islanders will ask the UN committee to find that international human rights law means Australia must increase its emission reduction target to at least 65% below 2005 levels by 2030, going net zero by 2050, and phasing out coal.
The climate crisis is putting life on the islands of the Torres Strait at risk. Advancing seas are already threatening homes, as well as damaging burial grounds and sacred cultural sites. Many Islanders are worried that their islands could quite literally disappear in their lifetimes without urgent action, with severe impacts on their ability to practice their law and culture.
Despite these facts, the Australian federal government acts as a powerful advocate for the fossil fuel industry, ignoring the existential threats the people in the islands face.
You can support the Our Islands, Our Home campaign by calling on the Prime Minister to commit the Australian government to doing everything it can to support the people of the Torres Strait with the resources they need to protect their island homes from climate change, and to mobilise Australia to pass laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with our commitments to a 1.5 degree target under the Paris Agreement.
The Torres Strait Islands are a beautiful and important part of Australia’s culture, and it’s our government’s responsibility to protect that – not continue supporting policies that put First Nations culture and way of life at risk.