Human rights issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will come under scrutiny during the first visit of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to Australia.

First Nations leaders from around the world gathered in New York earlier this month for the 21st session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The forum called on governments, courts and UN agencies to put in place mechanisms to support and protect the lands and lives of indigenous peoples.

He also recommended that indigenous peoples around the world have more opportunities to participate in the UN General Assembly process, an initiative that could elevate the forum to a level comparable to that of member states.

Indigenous human rights lawyer Hannah McGlade said the visit would highlight the human rights issues facing indigenous peoples.

“I originally requested the visit on behalf of the Noongar Family Safety and Wellbeing Council five years ago…in the context of the high rate of child removals and the lack of self-determination in government responses,” said she declared.

“Self-determination is recognized in legislation but has no significant effect in actual systems and processes.

“We need this addressed now…these are fundamental human rights issues.”

Dr McGlade said the Expert Mechanism study would go beyond child removals and look at other human rights issues facing indigenous peoples.

The Australian government was one of only four national governments to vote against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007.

After the election of the Rudd government, Australia voted in favor of the declaration in 2009 but has yet to implement it.

In April this year, Greens Senator and Gunnai, Gunditjmara and DjabWurrung’s wife, Lidia Thorpe, introduced a bill to bring Australian law into line with the Declaration.

Dr McGlade said Australia had fallen behind the modern world.

“New Zealand…has recently received a visit from the Expert Mechanism and this has helped them develop their human rights responses,” she said.

“Canada has just passed legislation to implement the Declaration in British Columbia.