What does the Commission want to see after COVID-19?
Rights and Freedoms
The Commission wants to see Australia emerge post-COVID as a fair, equal, strong and cohesive liberal democracy and we are advocating for that.
The Commission wants Australia to have a Human Rights Act to better protect the rights of everyone in the country.
It is likely there may be economic impacts for years to come after the initial public health threat of COVID-19 has ended so we must embed human rights in our laws and policies now for the future.
We need to ensure no one is left behind when it is time to rebuild Australia’s economy. We must ensure that the plan is inclusive of everyone.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO
Ultimately, First Nations people need more than just piecemeal financial measures. We cannot go on plugging the gap with quick short-term policy fixes, otherwise our families will continue to live in poverty throughout an impending recession, potentially the worst Australia has seen in recent decades. We need a serious multi-pronged recovery approach.
Australia needs a post-COVID-19 recovery and reconstruction plan. If we are to progress toward a healthy, resilient, economically and environmentally sustainable society, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be equal participants in Australian nation building. Constitutional recognition, inclusion and a new First Nations body should start now as we work towards a recovery from COVID-19.
Age Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Kay Patterson AO
Ageism (negative attitudes), and age discrimination (the actions resulting from negative stereotypes about older workers) have a real impact on limiting the recruitment, retention, promotion and access to training of older people.
These major challenges were an issue pre-COVID-19 but post-pandemic it is likely they will be amplified as the number of older people affected will increase due to economic impacts. We must make sure that age discrimination is not an unintended consequence as we move to address the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Ben Gauntlett
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the systemic disadvantage that Australians with disability may face and highlighted the need for comprehensive and rigorously implemented disability policy.
Australia’s next National Disability Strategy for beyond 2020 is currently under development. This strategy will shape the next 10 years of disability policy in Australia. Australia’s disability policy framework should have the flexibility to respond to disasters with an inherent understanding of human rights.
Many lessons can be learnt from the challenges posed by COVID-19. One is that in times of crisis, when difficult policy questions arise for people with disability, the key to a successful policy response is constructive engagement with people with lived experience.
Race Discrimination Commissioner, Chin Tan
Governments need to involve diverse communities in post-pandemic recovery plans, to ensure people from those communities share in opportunities and are not further marginalised.
The Commission has consistently advocated for the Federal Government to extend social support services to all people living in Australia, including students and temporary visa holders.
Governments should also commit to tackling systemic racism post COVID-19. It remains a barrier to people from diverse communities in many aspects of their lives.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins
Government, businesses and the community need to work together to overcome the structural and systemic barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce.
These barriers, including high childcare costs, poor remuneration in feminised industries, and insecure conditions for part-time and casual workers, existed before the pandemic, but have been exacerbated by its disproportionate financial impact on women.
For LGBTQI workers, historical and continuing experiences of discrimination and ongoing disparities in mental and physical health and access to services have heightened their economic and health risks during the pandemic, and will require specific targeted measures going forward.
Human Rights Commissioner, Edward Santow
When we move into the COVID-19 recovery phase, our biggest challenge will be to emerge on the other side having the kind of society we want to live in. We should strive to create a society that is more equal and places value on the human rights of everyone, especially people in vulnerable groups.
We must not allow the inequality that COVID-19 is exacerbating to further entrench itself. While I appreciate that the economy has taken a huge hit from COVID-19, if we are truly 'all in this together' then we need to treat everyone in society equally and fairly. We need to ensure we lay the policy groundwork for a fairer society now.