Human Rights Protection for All: SCALES submission to the National Human Rights Consultation
Southern Communities Advocacy Legal and Education Service, (2009) Human Rights Protection for All: SCALES submission to the National Human Rights Consultation. Submitted to the National Human Rights Consultation Committee, 2009 .
SCALES is honoured to be able to make this submission. We believe that the National Human Rights Consultation represents an important opportunity for Australia to be heard on the issue of human rights. For too long, governments have told us that human rights are not worth discussing. We have been told that they “are sufficiently protected in Australia”, that “things are much worse in the rest of the world” or that we “should not be directed by those in Geneva or New York”. However, this is not the real story.
For us at SCALES the real story is the young person who comes to us because they want to vote but can’t because they are one of the growing number of children and young people that are homeless in this country. Or the Aboriginal mother who wants to keep her house so that she can care for her dying relatives because life expectancy among Aboriginal people is still 25 years less than the Australian population as a whole. Or the asylum seeker who is a minor, on his own in a new country and locked up without regard to his mental health.
In making this submission we have tried to draw as much as possible on the actual experience of our clients, relating many of the stories we hear everyday. What we can tell you without a shadow of a doubt is that we all need better protection of human rights, not just to better protect those most vulnerable in our community, but to build and strengthen our community as a whole.
We have also argued that we should better protect human rights in order to honour the international commitments Australia has made over a number of years, with the signing of all the major treaties. For Australia this is an admirable record, but only if it is done in good faith and the obligations the treaties are met. Signing these treaties has helped our international standing but currently they mean little more that empty diplomatic gestures because they have not been implemented into domestic law.
But the most important reason to better protect human rights in Australia is for the people of Australia, so that everyone can live in the understanding that simply by being human we have an inherent dignity, which as a community we are committed to respecting and promoting.
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Southern Communities Advocacy Legal and Education Service
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