Commemorate Human Rights Day - Activity sheet 4
Human rights scenarios
Every year on December 10, we commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. During 2009, the Australian
Government conducted a series of human rights consultations on human rights in
The human rights consultation process has raised the following questions:
- Which human rights (including corresponding responsibilities) should be
protected and promoted?
- Are these human rights currently sufficiently protected and promoted?
- How could Australia better protect and promote human rights?
order to answer the questions above, read through the hypothetical scenarios
below and discuss with a group/class how you might respond to the questions
1. Young people and police custody
A 15 year old African Australian Islander girl is taken to the police
station for questioning about a robbery. As she is being driven to the station
the police ask her a lot of questions. She doesn’t have a liaison officer,
a legal advocate, a parent or an adult carer with her while she is being
questioned. The girl does not know her rights.
Do you know your rights? Why, why not? Does the government have a role to
play in this situation?
2. Control of Centrelink money
The Government has concerns that Aboriginal people are spending their
Centrelink money on the wrong things like alcohol and gambling and are worried
that there is too much humbugging taking place in communities. As a result, the
Government has decided to make sure that people receiving the Centrelink payment
spend half their money on food and clothing. They have set up a system so the
money can only be spent on these things. This rule only applies to Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander people. It does not apply to non-Indigenous people.
What do you think about this? Why?
3. Safety and police
A small remote community of 90 people has problems with fighting at night.
Many people are frightened and don’t know what to do when they are in
danger. There are no police in the community and the Government says the
community is too small to set up a police station.
What is your view? Should the Government take action? If yes, what action
should they take? If not, why not?
4. Drinking water
A remote community with a population of about 50 people has access to bore
water but it is not good quality. The older people are getting sick with kidney
problems because of the poor water quality.
Should the people move or should the government do something about it? Why?
5. Children and safety
A five year old child is wandering around the streets, unsupervised by his
mother or father. His parents spend a lot of time at the casino at night and
sleep in late in the mornings. The child is left alone until someone wakes up to
get him food.
Does the Government have a role to assist the child and/or the family? What
should the Government do in this situation?
6. Keeping families together
A mother is expecting a baby but there is no hospital in her town of
nearly 2,000 people. There is a health clinic but no hospital facilities. The
hospital is a long way from the community and the only way to get there is by
plane. Under the air transport and health department rules she must go to the
hospital four weeks before the baby is due.
The father does not live at home with the children and there is no
Government money to fly the children with their mother. The children do not want
to be separated from their mother.
Should the Government do anything in this situation? Why or why not?
7. Disability services
The health clinic in a regional town of Australia has three steps up to
the front door. A number of local people have walking sticks and two people are
in wheelchairs. Some people have to be carried up the stairs when they attend
the health clinic. The clinic has hard wooden floors and when the children run
around the waiting room there is a lot of noise. A number of community members
have middle ear conditions and as a result they have hearing impediments. There
have been complaints that the patients cannot hear the health workers and they
have misunderstood important advice because of the noise problems at the clinic.
Does the Government have a responsibility to do something? Why or why