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Human rights key to Aboriginal peoples’ wellbeing

Logo for Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention

12 September 2022:

Aboriginal leaders, including a prominent academic from The University of Western Australia, have called on the Federal Government to act on a raft of policies and treaties to make a real difference to the wellbeing and human rights of Indigenous people.

The appeal was made at the third Social and Emotional Wellbeing Gathering in Canberra, which was convened by UWA School of Indigenous Studies Professor Pat Dudgeon.

Professor Dudgeon, who has a PhD in Psychology, said improving the human rights of Aboriginal people would make a practical difference to their wellbeing.

“Without proper recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, addressing social determinants and ensuring culturally safe services, our people will continue to be adversely affected,” Professor Dudgeon said.

“I’m not just talking about rights to health and mental health but our rights to self-determination and proper consultation also have to be respected and upheld if we are going to close the gap.

“The conversations over the three-day gathering reinforced the need to hold governments accountable to their existing legislative and policy commitments.”

Professor Dudgeon, from the Bardi people of the Kimberly area in Western Australia, said the policies and treaties included the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Closing The Gap Partnership agreement, the International Labour Organisation Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal People and the Uluru Statement from the Heart and Voice, Treaty and Truth.

Speakers at the gathering included human rights advocates, Tom Calma AO and Pat Anderson AO and Indigenous Psychologists from Australia and Canada.

Media references

Cecile O’Connor  (UWA Media & PR Advisor)               6488 6876

Lance Reilly  (Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia)     (08) 8168 830 

If you or someone you know needs help or support, you can contact your local Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisation or

  • Lifeline: 131 114
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
  • Mensline: 1300 78 99 78
  • Beyondblue 1300 22 46 36
  • Q Life 1800 18 45 27
  • Open Arms Veterans & Families Counselling 1800 01 10 46
  • The National Indigenous Critical Response Service 1800 80 58 01
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