Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Indigenous Australian woman participates in United Nations Forum

Megan Davis, the first Indigenous Australian women to be elected to the United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues today attended her first session of the Forum in New York.

Ms Davis joins 16 independent experts nominated by Governments and Indigenous organisations across the world to examine Indigenous issues including economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin said the Australian Government was delighted that this exceptional Indigenous woman was elected a member of the pre-eminent UN body for Indigenous issues for a three year term.

On behalf of all Australians, I congratulate Ms Davis on her role at this important Indigenous forum.

Ms Davis is a passionate and considered advocate for Indigenous issues within Australia and internationally.

Ms Davis brings outstanding experience to this role – as an international human rights lawyer, Associate Professor and Director of the Indigenous Law Centre at the University of New South Wales, and Commissioner of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court.

She has also been appointed by the Government as a member of the expert panel on the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

This is the first time the Australian Government has nominated an Indigenous person for election to a UN body.

The Australian Government is working to build relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians based on mutual trust, respect and understanding.

In 2009 Australia announced its support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Last year, the Government delivered its commitment to re-instate the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 in the Northern Territory following extensive consultations to redesign the Northern Territory Emergency Response.

The Northern Territory Emergency Response has invested over $1.2 billion in improved services, better health services, community safety and policing and is an important part of working together with Indigenous communities to strengthen efforts to combat violence, child abuse and rebuild social norms to improve the lives of Indigenous Australian’s, especially those in remote locations.

The tenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) will meet from 16 – 27 May 2011. More information