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HREOC - Annual Report 2001 - 2002: Chapter 6: Human Rights

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

Annual Report 2001-2002

Chapter 6: Human Rights

Dr Sev Ozdowski, OAM - Human Rights CommissionerHuman
Rights Commissioner

Dr Sev Ozdowski
was appointed Human Rights Commissioner in December 2000 for a five
year term. He is also the acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner.

Statement from the Commissioner

The year under
review has been dominated from a human rights perspective by the issue
of asylum seekers. As a result and because of my work with the National
Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention I have given much thought
to the multitude of issues involved. From this process some fundamental
principles have evolved which I would like to present, as a way of
furthering informed discussion on the topic. In this way I would hope
that, in time, sufficient Australians will think about this subject
deeply enough to encourage a significant policy shift.

To recapitulate,
Australia maintains a mandatory detention policy which requires that
all those who come to our shores without authorisation are detained
in immigration centres on arrival. This is until they are either granted
visas or returned to their country of origin or in the case of people
who land on the excised territories of any of the Christmas, Cocos
or Cartier Islands or Ashmore Reef, removed to Papua New Guinea or
Nauru under the colloquially named "Pacific Solution". Most
of these people see themselves as refugees and are seeking asylum
in Australia.

A substantial
proportion of them will subsequently satisfy Australia's refugee assessment
criteria thereby engaging our protection obligations as behoves a
signatory to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the
Status of Refugees.

The first point
to be made about this situation is that asylum seekers who arrive
in this unauthorised fashion have not committed any crime under Australian
domestic law. The second point is that under our Migration Act, asylum
seekers who arrive "unauthorised" must be detained pending
resolution of their refugee status.

An initial period
of mandatory detention, thereby enabling rudimentary health, identity/security
and refugee status backgrounding to occur, is reasonable. In this
respect the Swedish model - which similarly imposes mandatory detention
on all unauthorised arrivals, but completes first phase processing
in a matter of weeks if not days, followed by supervised release into
the general community pending final determination of refugee status
- is acceptable, in my view.

In contrast,
the current Australian law requires verification and adjudication
finalisation of all aspects of an asylum seeker's application within
detention. This is a process that takes months on average and in some
cases years.

The next sticking
point is the virtual elimination of judicial oversight by Australian
judges, from this massive exercise in administrative decision making.
Again the Swedish model seems to have developed a more realistic appreciation
of the perils of unrestrained administrative activity, by scheduling
windows of compulsory judicial review into their refugee determination
system. In other words, at periodic intervals the authorities must
present the applicant refugee before a judge if they wish to continue
with an assessment regime that is outside the previously mandated

Again, by way
of contrast, Australia, with the exception of the constitutional protections
of the High Court of Australia, has now successfully enacted a suite
of laws which ensures that just about every aspect of a refugee determination
decision is immune from judicial oversight as the applicant travels
along the assessment line. The lessons from history teach us that
administrative decision making on a large scale, without the normal
rights of judicial appeal, is an explosive cocktail. It may also undermine
our civil liberties which underpin our democracy.

Of parallel concern
is the fact that this unprecedented (in Australian terms anyway) diminution
of an individual's 'rights' was conducted by the legislature without
any reference to a statutory Bill of Rights, thereby obscuring the
extent to which the forfeiture was occurring. It is very difficult
to make a judgement on what is being given up, if you have nothing
by which to measure it.

Much of the current
rhetoric justifying this assessment regime is coupled with the catch
cry of 'border protection'. Australia's sovereign right to decide
who will enter and ultimately reside in this country is not disputed;
but what has that issue got to do with the need for long term mandatory
detention? If the answer is deterrence of other aspiring asylum seekers,
egged on by unscrupulous 'people smugglers', then clearly there should
be doubts about the long term sustainability of the policy and its
high moral cost.

Camp style detention
effectively began in the early 90's and one would expect the cumulative
affect of its operation to have resulted in a dramatic reduction of
boat people towards the end of the decade. This did not happen. Admittedly
there is a current lull in numbers, but it would be a brave person
who predicts this heralds the end of the storm, especially in light
of the many complex social interactions at work here. Certainly the
Government's decision to construct a $230 million, 1 200 person permanent
detention camp, in addition to the existing facilities on Christmas
Island, implies that someone else shares this scepticism.

In any event,
an issue of proportionality arises here. Contemporary western philosophical
thought has long accepted that the means of deterrence must be proportional
to the moral price it exacts. Thus it would be unacceptable to punish
habitual pickpockets by cutting off their right hand, as was the case
in medieval Christian times, because the deterrence value is outweighed
by the moral repugnance of the act.

Similarly, the
proclaimed efficacy of the immigration detention policy must be measured
against its high moral cost.

Finally, we come
to the vexing subject of adherence to United Nations inspired human
rights treaties and conventions. Due to the necessarily legalistic
nature of these commitments, proponents of any particular point of
view can make a strong legal argument in support of their case. Accordingly,
where the Commission might find that the Government has breached a
particular human rights convention, a battalion of lawyers can produce
arguments to the contrary.

The fact is Australia
has much to gain from adhering to not just the "black letter
law" of our international treaty commitments, but also the spirit
that underpins them. The apologists for Australia's current, hard
line asylum seeker stance, make much of the fact that the Government's
actions are 'lawful' by reference to our domestic laws. Leaving aside
the fact that South Africa's abhorrent apartheid laws were domestically
lawful while simultaneously offending a plethora of international
human rights conventions, one would hope that for the sake of Australia's
long term future a little common sense prevails here.

Consider this:
in international terms Australia is a very small player indeed and
so our economic lifeblood is almost totally regulated by the extent
to which our trading partners adhere to the letter and 'spirit' of
a whole raft of international trade agreements. Therefore we can't
afford to 'cherry pick' between those treaties we want observed and
those we would rather ignore. Treaties implying moral obligations
towards refugees, using this criterion, become just as important for
our long term future as those which help secure our economic and trading

As Human Rights
Commissioner, I have previously called for the total closure of Australia's
remote site detention centres. My detailed inspections of them have,
over time, convinced me that they are 'un-Australian'. I happen to
believe that operationally they also breach many human rights conventions,
but as previously indicated, this can be something of a dry argument.

Australia prides
itself, justifiably, on being the land of the 'fair go', where a spirit
of mateship enabled us to flourish in a difficult and unforgiving
physical environment. It is nonsense to pretend that the integrity
of our borders is threatened by the small, sad, flotilla of leaky
boats with their desperately fragile cargo of asylum seekers. We can
maintain a system of visas and identity, security and health checks
without stomping all over our 'fair go' heritage.

The current policy
of long term mandatory detention in containment camps is exacting
an extremely high moral toll; future generations of Australians will
undoubtedly question whether that price was worth paying. Therefore
let us, as a community, harness all the money, ingenuity and effort
expended on the current detention system into a new way, a way which
will achieve the appropriate policy objectives while simultaneously
drawing on the rich Australian heritage of compassion and decency.

If we can achieve
this we will, almost subconsciously, be fulfilling both the letter
and the 'spirit' of our human rights commitments.

In order to reach
this goal it will be necessary to convince a majority of our fellow
Australians, who overwhelmingly support the current Government policy,
that change is essential. In the year ahead I will be working assiduously
to achieve that outcome.

National Inquiries

National Inquiry into
Children in Immigration Detention

This Inquiry
was announced by the Commissioner on 28 November 2001, and arose in
part from the Commissioner's visits to immigration detention centres
and from concerns raised by a number of individuals and organisations
about the conditions of centres, the length of detention, and changes
in legislation which appeared to discriminate against refugees on
the basis of religious and racial background. The main objectives
are to determine if there have been breaches of international conventions,
particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child arising
from legislation, policies and practices relating to immigration detention.

It is hoped that
a major outcome will be an increase in the broader community's awareness
that human rights issues are an integral part of everyday life, and
are of relevance to everyone.

The Commissioner
is assisted in this Inquiry by two Assistant Commissioners, Mrs Robin
Sullivan, Commissioner for Children and Young People, Queensland,
and Professor Trang Thomas, Professor of Psychology, Royal Melbourne
Institute of Technology.

National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention Website


The Commissioner
issued directions concerning anonymity and confidentiality in respect
of written submissions, information given in public hearings and the
identity of individuals. The main objectives of these directions were
to protect individuals who gave evidence, especially children, and
those who might otherwise have been named in submissions or public
evidence as having acted against refugees.


The Inquiry adopted
a multi-pronged methodology to secure access to, and test, relevant
information. As well as advertisements in the major papers and ethnic
press, information about the Inquiry was sent to community based organisations
and Migrant Resource Centres, and special posters were sent to Immigration
Detention Centres and Immigration Reception and Processing Centres.
The original closing date for receipt of submissions was 15 March
2002, which was extended to 3 May 2002. As at the end of June 2002,
249 submissions had been received. The Inquiry also intends to carry
out a thorough examination of relevant DIMIA/ACM documents.


Submissions were
provided in several formats, including tapes, drawings, poetry as
well as detailed commentary by organisations representing detainees,
human rights and legal bodies, members of the public, religious organisations,
and a range of non-government policy and service providing groups.
Phone calls and letters from detention centres were also accepted,
and information provided in these was tested during the Commission's
public and in camera hearings.

Most submissions
will be placed on the Commission's website at
Some have been amended to delete identifying names or situations,
and others will need to remain confidential to protect individuals
and families.


Public hearings
were held in Melbourne and Perth on 30-31 May and 10 June 2002 respectively.
Further public hearings were planned for Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane,
on 1-2 July, 15-17 July, and 5 August 2002, with additional hearing
dates to take evidence from the Department of Immigration & Multicultural
& Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) and Australasian Correctional Management
(ACM), the immigration detention centre service provider.

Transcripts of
hearings are placed on the Commission's website at
to facilitate access to this information.

In camera hearings
are also being held to take information from a range of individuals
and organisations.

Visits to
Immigration Detention Centres and Immigration Reception and Processing

In most cases,
such hearings preceded or were followed by visits to Immigration Detention
Centres and Immigration Reception and Processing Centres, where the
Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners had the opportunity to discuss
issues and concerns with detainees and ACM and DIMIA staff, and to
inspect premises. Where possible, discussions with children, including
young adults, featured in these visits, given both the nature of the
Inquiry and particular concerns about mental health care and education
services for children in detention.

In the case of
Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre, the Inquiry visited
that location in both January and June 2002. The material collected
over a five day period in January which was the subject of a press
release at that time will be incorporated into the report along with
data from the June visit.

Focus groups
and other meetings in the community

Many former detainees
wished to provide information to the Inquiry but were hesitant to
do so. Some concerns related to a belief that future visas would be
compromised if adverse statements were made. Other people were concerned
about the severe stress and trauma experienced by many detainees which
prevented them from being able to discuss issues in a more formal

A large number
of structured meetings and discussions were held with children of
all ages and adults, the majority of whom had been in detention in
remote centres. A range of questions was asked of participants, with
the same questions being included in all discussions to obtain coverage
of key issues. These meetings were held in several venues, including
private homes. The Commissioner believes that children should be free
to speak, to provide their impressions and to talk through issues.
At the same time, he was aware that children should not be exposed
to unnecessary publicity and that discussions in a public and more
formal setting could result in additional trauma. Consequently, discussions
with children were both informal and confidential.

Of particular
concern was the need to communicate with unaccompanied minors as these
lacked parental protection and were often placed in inappropriate
accommodation in detention centres; in addition, they had been reported
to experience problems when living in the community. Several focus
groups were also held with families, the majority of which had been
living as a family group within detention centres, and were now living
in the community on Temporary Protection Visas.

summaries of information provided from all meetings will be placed
on the Commission's website. Information collected, and allegations
made, in discussions will also be tested in hearings and in case studies.

A total of 25
meetings were held during 2001-02.


A draft report
is expected to be completed in late 2002.

Monitoring and adhering
to human rights

Visits to Immigration
Detention Facilities

The Commissioner
has undertaken to inspect periodically immigration detention facilities
and to evaluate the conditions and treatment of detainees. This builds
on the Commission's work on immigration detention over many years.

The visits conducted
during 2001-02 continued to reveal a number of significant human rights
concerns. Following the visits the Commissioner raised particular
issues concerning each facility directly with DIMIA and in some cases
corresponded directly with the Minister for Immigration. Additionally
pursuant to sections 11(1)(j) and (k) of the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission Act, the Commissioner transmitted a report
on these visits to the Attorney-General for parliamentary tabling.
In that report not all of the issues raised in each of the individual
facilities over this period were discussed. Rather, major recurring
themes which require more systematic federal government action have
been highlighted. Outlined below is a brief summary of those themes.

During 2001-02
the Commissioner visited the following facilities:

20-21 August
Immigration Detention Centre.
21-23 January
Hill Immigration Reception Centre, Christmas Island.
25-26 January
Cocos (Keeling)
Islands Immigration Reception Centre.

Major issues
of concern

During the visits
detainees raised a number of concerns ranging from minor complaints
about daily conditions through to perceived serious injustices, including
mental health issues. Some of the issues raised were specific to a
particular facility. However, many of the issues are common, in greater
or lesser degree, to all the immigration detention facilities managed
by ACM and reflect systemic problems which need to be addressed.

It has become
clear during the course of the visits that many of the more serious
issues are closely interrelated. In particular, the effect of inferior
conditions or perceived ill treatment of detainees in detention facilities
is significantly compounded by prolonged periods in detention. Similarly,
lack of information about the processing of visa applications becomes
more and more intolerable as periods in detention lengthen. Not surprisingly,
this has a marked effect on the mental well being of detainees.

Lengths of
time in detention

Prolonged periods
of time in detention are one of the key problems identified in the
immigration detention facilities visited. From discussions with detainees
and ACM staff, it is clear that while any detention creates strain,
prolonged detention increases exponentially the stress and mental
health difficulties experienced by detainees. Prolonged detention
may also breach international law standards.

During the visits,
DIMIA provides the Commissioner with statistics as to the individual
detainee population at the time, in addition to the length of time
in detention of each detainee. In 2001-02, DIMIA advised that the
average duration of detention had reduced considerably from the previous
year. According to DIMIA, during 2001-02 the average length of time
spent in detention by people who arrived by boat was 155 days (approximately
five and a half months).

Judicial review
of detention

In Australia,
judicial review of immigration detention is very limited as the detention
of unauthorised arrivals is lawful under the Migration Act 1958.
Asylum seekers are not able to challenge their detention on the basis
that there has been a violation of their human rights under any international
instrument to which Australia is a party including the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the Convention on the Rights
of the Child
. Without this possibility, there is little to pressure
government to speed up processing times, to allow for either the release
of a detainee or safe removal to a third country.

Access to
legal assistance

During the Commissioner's
visits to detention facilities, a number of detainees complained that
they had not been fully informed of their status and the progress
of their asylum applications, including their right to access legal
assistance. Many detainees interviewed indicated they had never been
informed of the reason why they were in detention.

Access to
general information and contact with the outside world

The lack of access
to information concerning application processing is mirrored in a
general lack of access to information from the outside world for many
of those in immigration detention facilities. Nothing in their detention
should prevent detainees from exercising rights to communicate with
their families, communities, legal representatives or relevant refugee
and human rights organisations. In particular, detainees should be
allowed to inform family members, whether in Australia or overseas,
of their safe arrival in Australia, within a short period of arrival.
Nor should detention prevent access to newspapers, magazines and television
news reports.

and recreation

The provision
of materials and facilities for educational and recreational purposes
is not only consistent with international human rights standards for
detainees, but is also a sensible approach to the management of detention
facilities. Meaningful activities may alleviate stress particularly
for long term detainees. Considering that a large number of detainees
on the mainland, at least, would be likely to be released into the
community on Temporary Protection Visas, it is essential that they
be facilitated to use their time as constructively as possible.

The Commissioner
noted during the visits that there were minimal educational activities
available to adults, consisting mostly of English lessons. Only in
some facilities could detainees use a computer room and attend computer


The Commissioner
noted that immigration detention facilities are, in general, not equipped
for long term detention. This is reflected in dormitory and demountable
style accommodation arrangements, paucity of educational and recreational
programs and a general atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity. The
"contingency" nature of these facilities becomes even more
apparent when the numbers of detainees increase at particular facilities.

Health care

All facilities
visited had certain basic health care services available. All services
had on site nursing staff. All services on the mainland facilities,
except Perth, had General Practitioners on staff, although in some
facilities this was on a part-time or rotational basis. Reports about
the accessibility and quality of health care in the facilities were
mixed. Some detainees praised the service they received, especially
for the more serious cases which required transfer to hospital. On
the other hand, a common and persistent complaint among many detainees
was the feeling that their illnesses were not being treated seriously.

Mental health

One of the most
important and disturbing issues in all detention facilities is the
prevalence of depression and stress among detainees. In all facilities
visited, detainees had experienced or were experiencing mental distress
themselves or observed mental distress among others.

needs in detention

The effects of
detention on children are of major concern. The situation in detention
is particularly inappropriate for children because of the lack of
schooling and exposure to violence and psychological stress.

Security and

Security and
discipline in detention facilities is another major area of concern.
A recent phenomenon appears to be the use of isolation detention for
"behaviour management" in several detention facilities.


Australia is
under an obligation to ensure the basic human rights of all those
who come within its jurisdiction. This includes all people who arrive
on our shores, whether unauthorised or authorised, adult or child.

We have a particular
responsibility to ensure that the human rights of people who have
been deprived of their liberty are safeguarded. They are especially
vulnerable as they are almost completely dependent on the care and
protection of DIMIA and ACM. Hence authorities responsible for detention
must ensure minimum human rights standards and humane detention.

Some of the most
essential of these include the right not to be arbitrarily detained,
to have access to information and legal assistance, the right to humane
treatment and the rights of children to special protection. If detainees
are deprived of their basic rights, a situation of distress, anxiety
and grievance is created, which all too often results in the protests
and violence we have seen over the previous year.

Education and promotion

An Australian Bill of

In the course
of the last year the Commissioner has presented the case for the introduction
of a legislated Bill of Rights to three major forums. One of these
forums was a nationally televised address to the National Press Club.
Also, the Commissioner has used general speech opportunities to broaden
community understanding on the issue.

Firstly, the
Commissioner believes an Australian Citizens' Charter (or Bill of
Rights) would assist Australians by replacing some of the institutional
protections that previously existed but have now arguably diminished.
Governments of all persuasions are mainly interested in basic service
provision such as health, education, defence and law and order; trade
union membership is low and struggling to remain relevant; parliament
is inhibited by the discipline of voting along 'party lines'; courts
cannot imply individual rights out of the common law without stretching
the legal framework almost to breaking point; and the media's defence
of the individual, while it does occur, is too idiosyncratic to be
of ongoing assistance. A Bill of Rights would encourage us to react
more proactively to the global changes that are engulfing us all.

Secondly, if
that was not a strong enough reason prior to September 11, then the
proposed curtailing of personal freedoms explicit in the Government's
"war on terrorism" and the consequential package of laws
enacted by it, makes it essential.

It is difficult
to measure what we are being asked to give up when the Government
proposes legislation, that either explicitly or implicitly advocates
change to the way we are allowed, as individuals or groups, to conduct
ourselves, when there is currently no checklist of mandated civil
rights (other than the very limited ones present in the Australian

And thirdly,
the Commissioner believes the maximum degree of public support for
a Bill of Rights must be achieved; modern democratic governments of
all political persuasions are very 'focus group' driven. This is now
the sine qua non of any successful public campaign, no matter
how overwhelming the logic, if it requires federal legislation for
its implementation. In line with this, the Commissioner will therefore
continue to use all appropriate opportunities to present the case
for a Bill of Rights.

So, what kind
of Charter should be developed? In the Commissioner's view it must
not be too ambitious. It should be limited to basic freedoms (freedom
from arbitrary arrest or detention, right to a fair trial or due process,
the freedom of association, equality of all persons before the law)
and should be statutory not constitutional. It must reflect Australian
values and traditions.

However, before
this can happen there must be a national debate. There must be discussion
on what rights to protect and how it should be done; in other words
development of a sufficient groundswell of public opinion to encourage
the Australian Parliament to establish those guidelines, or Citizens'
Charter, for the courts to interpret. In a democracy like Australia's,
with its Westminster traditions, and the chequered history of this
subject, it is undoubtedly the only model likely to achieve success.

International activities

United Nations Special
Session on Children

The principal
purpose of the Commissioner's visit to the USA was his attendance
at the United Nations Special Session on Children in New York. In
preparation for this attendance, the Commissioner consulted children
and youth non-government organisations and Children's Commissioners
in advance of the Special Session.

He held consultations
on the Special Session in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide
and Canberra. He also had discussions in Broome about children with
disabilities and met with members of UNICEF Australia's Taskforce
on Child Rights.

The Commissioner
attended the Special Session as a member of the Australian Government
delegation and participated in its work, including representing the
leader of the delegation, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
at the Gates Foundation Concert "Turn This World Around - Leadership
for Children" on 9 May 2002.

The Minister's
statement delivered on behalf of Australia to the 27th Special Session
of the General Assembly on Children mentioned the work of the Commission.

In addition,
during the visit to New York, the Commissioner conducted a number
of consultations with Australian and other non-government organisations
present at the Session and with UNICEF officials.

United Nations Special Session on Children Website

First Global Meeting of
Independent Human Rights Institutions for Children

The Commissioner
attended the First Global Meeting of Independent Human Rights Institutions
for Children on 7 May 2002, prior to the United Nations Special Session.

Seventeen countries
were represented including Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Columbia,
Denmark, France, Iceland, Macedonia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Northern
Ireland, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. Three observers
and relevant UNICEF office holders participated in the meeting. Australia
was represented by the Human Rights Commissioner. The Tasmanian Commissioner
for Children participated as an invited guest of UNICEF.

During the meeting,
the institutions shared information on their strategies, activities
and challenges to their work. The Commissioner was invited to give
a report on Australia's achievements regarding the rights of children
and to outline the functions and structure of the Commission. He also
spoke about the role of the Asia Pacific Forum.

The Meeting agreed

  • urge Governments
    and the United Nations system to mainstream and give a priority
    to children's rights and to develop appropriate mechanisms, including
    legislation to advance children's rights
  • support development
    of children's independent human rights institutions in every State
  • call on the
    United Nations system to give formal recognition to independent
    human rights institutions to enable them to be active participants
    in all UN proceedings
  • develop a
    list of long term follow-up and commitments, including a commitment
    to establish a global network of Independent Human Rights Institutions
    for Children and the organisation of regular meetings and exchanges
    of information.

Inspections of the INS
detention centres

In Los Angeles
the Commissioner was briefed by US Immigration and Naturalisation
Service (INS) officials and inspected the San Pedro Service Processing
Center and the Los Pardinos Juvenile Hall and Juvenile Court on 26
April 2002.

The San Pedro
Processing Center holds about 500 criminal deportees and asylum seekers.
The Commissioner was briefed on US asylum law and procedures and inspected
female and male dormitories, medical unit, recreation yards, reading
rooms, law library, immigration court rooms and other facilities.

The Los Pardinos
Juvenile Hall holds some 400-600 juvenile offenders over 12 years
old and a limited number of children in immigration detention. During
the visit there were only 12 unaccompanied minors in immigration detention.
Children are usually held for one to two weeks in detention, although
there was recently one case where a child spent three months in detention.
Immigration detainees are held in separate accommodation and attend
school seven hours per day. Both facilities were inspected by the

Meetings with US Government
Officials in Washington DC

During the Commissioner's
visit to Washington DC a number of meetings were held with officials
from the Departments of State and of Justice. The meetings in the
Department of Justice involved separate meetings with Immigration
and Naturalisation Service officials and with Civil Rights Division

Discussions included
issues such as a new immigration bill, including provisions for unaccompanied
minors (the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act), current immigration
practices and procedures, UNHCR regular inspections of the INS detention
centres, settlement services available for refugees, affirmative action,
the new Presidential Freedom Initiative, ecommerce for people with
visual impairment and application of new technologies for voting by
vision impaired and others.

The meetings
in the Department of State involved discussions with the Principal
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
and the Assistant Secretary for Human Rights. This discussion focussed
on US policies toward off shore refugees and the fact that the program
is being revised to become more global and give more focus to Africa.
Last year the US took in some 70 000 refugees (key groups included
Vietnamese and Jews from the former Soviet Union).

Meeting with the US Commission
on Civil Rights

The Commissioner
met with the Staff Director of the US Commission on Civil Rights.
Issues discussed included the mandate and structure of the Commission,
current investigations, including their Inquiry into "pollution
associated with location of industrial plants in poorer areas",
aspects of civil liberties in connection with US anti-terrorist measures,
and handling of asylum seekers by the INS, amongst other things.


A selection of
speeches, seminars and presentations made by, or on behalf of, Commissioner
Ozdowski during 2001-02 are listed below. Further speeches are available
on the Commission's website at

social and cultural rights in Australia - the roles of the Human Rights
and Equal Opportunity Commission and the corporate sector
, Asia
Pacific Forum meeting, Panel presentation, Hong Kong, 11 July 2001.

Building an
Australia Fit for Children
, Keynote presentation, Eighth National
Conference of the Association for the Welfare of Child Health 'Children
on the margin: addressing the health care needs of marginalised children
and young people', 11 October 2001.

Issues around
racism in Australia
, National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters
Council Conference, Melbourne, 9 November 2001.

Age Discrimination: The Need for Legislation
, Council on the Ageing
National Congress, Canberra, 13 November 2001.

Human Rights
in Contemporary Australia
, United Nations Association of Australia
- Human Rights Seminar: 'Human Rights from the Perspective of Individual,
Collective and Corporate Responsibilities', Tasmania, 17 November

a Stocktake and Quo Vadis?
, Equal Opportunity Practitioners in
Higher Education Australasia Conference, Canberra, 30 November 2001.

of Human Rights in Australia
, Second National Conference on Reconciliation,
Multiculturalism, Immigration and Human Rights, Geelong, 1 December

of Asylum Seekers: Key Themes
, International Conference on the
Refugee Convention, Sydney.7 December 2001.

Human Rights
- A Challenge for Australia
, National Press Club, Canberra, 6
February 2002.

Asylum Seekers
- Human Rights Issues
, Governor's Leadership Foundation Seminar,
Keynote presentation, Adelaide, 9 April 2002.

Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: challenges
for Australia
, PLAN International Australia conference, Keynote
presentation, Melbourne, 17 April 2002.

The Content
of an Australian Bill of Rights
, 2002 Bill of Rights Conference,
Sydney, 21 June 2002.