Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council - 27th Regular Session

Panel on Protection of the Family and its Members 
Joint Statement on Indigenous Kinship and Family systems

Delivered by HE Mr John Quinn, Permanent Representative of Australia
15 September 2014

I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of Australia, Guatemala, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States.

As we prepare for the upcoming World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, it is timely to reiterate our aspirations to improve the circumstances of our most vulnerable populations, in particular indigenous peoples.

We appreciate the clear limitations of state-led interventions and recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work across such a diverse range of communities, family groups, and individual citizens.

Within a number of indigenous populations across the world there are complex and intricate family kinship systems that often do not fall within the framework of a ‘nuclear’ family. Kinship relationships are based on extended family groupings rather than ‘nuclear’ ones.

An appreciation of family diversity in all its forms goes hand in hand with forging strong and productive working partnerships with local indigenous communities. These partnerships and a broad understanding of what comprises ‘family’ are necessary to ensure government interventions are tailored, culturally-appropriate, genuinely accessible and aimed at achieving the best possible outcomes.

We each recognise the importance of early intervention, prevention and collaboration in the promotion and protection of the human rights of members of indigenous and kinship families. This is achieved through community involvement to combine service delivery with assistance for mental health, domestic and family violence, drug and alcohol education, health and other services.

Only genuine engagement with vulnerable peoples, including members of indigenous families, will achieve their best possible social and economic participation.

To conclude, we would like to ask the panellists whether they have any additional recommendations of ways to ensure policies relating to families and their members protect the diversity of indigenous and kinship families.