Proposed Closures of Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities: Dispossession Without Free and Informed Consent and Legal Remedies for Appealing Government Budget Decisions

Australian Journal of Human Rights 22(1): 85-110 (2016)

18 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2016 Last revised: 31 May 2017

See all articles by Emma Fitch

Emma Fitch

University of Canberra - Division of Business, Law and Information Sciences

Patricia L. Easteal

University of Canberra - School of Law and Justice

Date Written: August 19, 2016

Abstract

The federal government announced the withdrawal of responsibility for funding for remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. The Western Australian government then initially announced the closure of a number of remote communities. In this article, we first look at the history of Indigenous dispossession to appreciate the gravity of the possible effects of the proposed closures. Next, we examine the legality of the decision and inconsistency with human rights law. We show how affected Indigenous groups lack administrative law avenues to challenge government decisions. Therefore, we suggest that reform should be explored in the administrative judicial review space, which could work in favour of Aboriginal communities whose homelands are threatened by closure. However, this is by no means the only necessary step. Autonomy, recognition, self-determination and protection of Indigenous cultures and consultation need to be fostered and encouraged within government decision-making and public policy.

Keywords: Indigenous rights, Aboriginal rights, dispossession, community closures, human rights, appealing budget decisions

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K23, J19

Suggested Citation

Fitch, Emma and Easteal, Patricia L., Proposed Closures of Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities: Dispossession Without Free and Informed Consent and Legal Remedies for Appealing Government Budget Decisions (August 19, 2016). Australian Journal of Human Rights 22(1): 85-110 (2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2826366

Emma Fitch

University of Canberra - Division of Business, Law and Information Sciences ( email )

Australia

Patricia L. Easteal (Contact Author)

University of Canberra - School of Law and Justice ( email )

Australia

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