Top-line Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander priorities

Dr Virginia Marshall, Executive member of the Indigenous Peoples Organisation – Australia, the Inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University and Better Futures Australia Ambassador

Aboriginal and Torres Strait delegates have travelled to COP26 to urge the Australian Government to prioritise impacts on their communities and to share a message: if the Australian Government is to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to 1.5℃, we need urgent action this decade and the government must listen to First Nations People’s knowledge and wisdom that 60,000 plus continuous years of living offers.

For the voice of Australia’s first peoples’ to be clear, the IPO-Australia, a national coalition of 300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations, community organisations and individuals from across Australia, developed a detailed Report of their Priorities and raised funds to send a strong delegation to the COP26.

This delegation is led by ANU researcher and Wiradjuri Nyemba woman Dr Virginia Marshall, a national expert on Climate Change, National Water Management and Native Title.

The Report includes calls for definitive measures such as:

  • cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 75% by 2030 and 100% by 2035
  • a commitment to going 100% renewables in Australia in the next 10 years
  • to abolish all fracking and coal seam gas extraction
  • a call to reverse policies that foster the sale and commodification of river waters on the finance market, to ensure water access to Aboriginal communities and continuous environmental flows.

Legislative priorities include:

  • calling for a review of Cultural Heritage Legislation (Federal and State) to incorporate Traditional Owner decision making, with a right to veto the mining of sacred sites; and
  • for the government to legislate the requirement for ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent’ of Traditional Owners for all mining and exploration, with the costs of and payment for meeting paid to Traditional Owners.

Sources can be seen in the full report, available for download.