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e-Bulletin, 1 November 2019

Commission Commission – General

In this e-bulletin:


Young and Female Workers at Risk

L-R: Retail worker Cassie Marra, Kate Jenkins, SDA National Assistant Secretary Julia Fox and SDA National Women’s Officer Katie Biddlestone.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins launched a report on sexual harassment of retail and fast food workers in Melbourne on October 29.
The report contained the results of a survey conducted by the Commission at the request of the SDA, the union for retail, fast food and warehousing workers, and revealed that female workers and younger workers were particularly at risk of workplace sexual harassment.
The SDA has long been an advocate for workplaces that are free from all forms of discrimination and harassment,” Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said.

“It’s clear that sexual harassment in the industries our members are working in is at a critical level and has a negative impact on the health and well being of our members,” SDA National Assistant Secretary Julia Fox said.


Successful UN Visit

Professor Rosalind Croucher AM at the Free and Equal conference pictured with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

The visit to Australia by UN Commissioner on Human Rights Dr Michelle Bachelet was a huge success. Dr Bachelet, who was awarded an honorary AC, had been one of Australia’s first political refugees in the 1970s and the Commission appealed to her ‘inner Aussie’ inviting her to return to Australia as part of our national conversation on human rights.
She was the keynote speaker at the Commission’s ‘Free and Equal’ conference where she gave an inspiring address about the need to frame human rights positively as helping all people across the world.
The High Commissioner also conducted a series of meetings and roundtables with stakeholders, including Indigenous groups and young people.
One of Dr Bachelet’s key messages during her visit was that “… Australia would benefit greatly from a comprehensive human rights law to systematically protect all their (Australian’s) rights”.



UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty

Man wearing a hooded jump leaning against wire fence gazing out into the distance

The author of a ground-breaking global study on children spoke at the Oceania regional launch in Sydney last month as part of the National Conversation on Human Rights.

Professor Manfred Nowak, the Independent Expert leading the global study found that a minimum of 1.5 million children around the world each year are deprived of their liberty across a variety of settings, with negative impacts on the well being of children.

“The principle is that children should never be behind bars. Every child behind bars is one too many, and there are millions behind bars,” Professor Nowak said.

The launch and a series of subsequent workshops on children in various forms of detention were organised in conjunction with the Commission.

“This study makes for disturbing reading: detention and prevention of liberty not only aggravates existing health conditions in children, but can also cause new ones to emerge, including anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and post-traumatic stress,” National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell said.



Use of Force in Immigration Detention

Emergency Response team attendee with blurred bystanders in the background

The Use of Force in Immigration Detention report has been tabled in Federal Parliament.

It considers the practices of handcuffing detainees, use of physical force within centres including arm and elbow locks, operations conducted by the Emergency Response Team (ERT), and the use of face masks.

“Force should only ever be used as a last resort where alternatives such as negotiation and de-escalation techniques have been exhausted,” said Commission President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM.

The report considered fourteen complaints, in nine of which the Commission found that the manner or degree of force used was contrary to the human rights of the detainees.



Human Rights Awards Finalists Announced

The Hon Peter McClellan AM QC and Chrissie Foster pictured with President Rosalind Croucher at the 2018 Human Rights Awards

Finalists across all nine categories for this year’s Human Rights Awards have now been announced.

Each year we celebrate and acknowledge the hard work of dozens of Australians whom work tirelessly to advance human rights. With over 350 nominations across our award categories, this year was a true testament to those working in the human rights sector.

Information about all of our finalists is available on our website

The Human Rights Awards will be held on Friday December 13 at the Fullerton (formerly the Westin) Hotel in Sydney.

Tickets for the 2019 Human Rights Awards are now available and ready for purchase!



Children's Commissioner Visits Indonesia

A group of attendees at a two-day conference on children’s right to a healthy environment

On October 22 and 23, Commissioner Megan Mitchell travelled to Bogor, Indonesia, to take part in a two day conference on children’s right to a healthy environment, sponsored by a range of agencies  including the German and Indonesian Governments, UNICEF, the United Nations and Terre des Hommes.
Around 50 children and young people from around the region, as well as international experts, shared their experiences of land, air and water degradation and how this is impacting on children in their communities.
The young people discussed the contributors to environmental damage - like climate change, pollution from industry and mining, deforestation, exposure to hazardous chemicals, and waste.
A poll conducted by the National Children’s Commissioner last year showed that Australian children share concerns about the environment with their peers in the region, rating having access to clean air and clean water in their top three rights.
The views of Australian children will be featured in the Commissioner’s upcoming Report of the state of Child Rights in Australia, to be launched on Universal Children’s Day, and the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Right of the Child on 20 November in Melbourne.



Shaping the Disability Agenda

Disability Discrimination Commissioner Ben Gauntlett out the front of Parliament House

Disability Discrimination Commissioner Ben Gauntlett had a series of meeting with MPs and Senators from the Government and Opposition at Parliament House on October 22.

He met with Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services; the Hon Stuart Robert MP, Minister for the NDIS and Government Services; Education Minister the Hon Dan Tehan MP; the Hon Bill Shorten MP, Shadow Minister for the NDIS and Government Services; and Matt Keogh MP, Shadow Minister for Defence Industry and WA Resources.

These meetings included discussions of the National Disability Strategy and the National Disability Insurance Scheme; employment; transport; housing; education; and data collection and implementation.


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