Community Rights

Community Rights

You should have a genuine say in decisions that impact nature–and you.

People shouldn't have to wake up one morning to be served a plan that tells them the place they love is now under threat. They shouldn't be left to fight a rearguard action to stop their slice of nature from being dug up or destroyed. They shouldn't have to protest to prevent their culture from being trashed or air and water polluted.

You and your community need rights that guarantee they get a genuine say in the decisions that impact nature—and impact you. When communities have a rightful say, outcomes for nature and people are better.

Governments & corporations come and go. Nature and communities live with their decisions for generations.

Universal community rights

The need for you and your community to have a genuine say in environmental decisions is recognised by the United Nations. Known as ‘environmental human rights’, they were first globally recognised in 1992 as Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration.

Europe embedded these rights in 2001 under the Aarhus Agreement. Australia has not followed Europe's lead, despite being a signatory to the Rio Declaration.

We have very few rights to meaningfully take part in decisions that impact nature. This needs to change.

You and your community should have rights that guarantee you get a genuine say in the decisions that impact nature—and impact you.

Every Australian should have the right to:

  1. Accurate, timely and useful information held by decision makers

  2. Be genuinely consulted in public decision making

  3. Access environmental justice. To be able to test the validity of decisions made.

    Community rights in environmental decisions

The problem is everywhere

Destructive projects, like fossil fuel expansion, are being forced on communities across Australia. It’s the fossil fuel executives who have a say right now, and not you. The result is the ongoing expansion of our fossil fuel industry despite significant community opposition.

Communities are connected across the country through their common lack of community rights. Here are some of their stories.

First Nations’ Rights

First Nations communities have unique rights in environmental decision making. First Nations should have the right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). These rights ensure that First Nations voices, from the start, are central in decision making about their environment. They guarantee timely access to information and include veto rights on projects proposed for their Country. If inappropriate projects proceed, FPIC rights give First Nations people access to justice.

Free, Prior and Informed Consent is recognised under the 2007 United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Yet in Australia these rights are currently ignored or only paid lip service.

Governments and corporations must stop using tick-a-box consultation. Consent-based rights (FPIC) must be adopted into the law and practices of governments and corporations.

First Nations communities continue to practice their living culture and Lore. This is despite the systems that deny their cultural authority and human rights.

Meaningful consultation can only occur once these First Nations rights and those of the wider community are available to all.