Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Report: Freedom, Respect, Equality, Dignity: Action

FREDA: NGO Report to UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (April 2008)

In April 2008, a major NGO Report was submitted to the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights regarding Australia’s implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Report, entitled Freedom, Respect, Equality, Dignity: Action is available at the Human Rights Law Resource Centre’s website and, was jointly prepared by the National Association of Community Legal Centres, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre and Kingsford Legal Centre. A further 30 NGOs with specific human rights and subject matter expertise made substantial contributions to the Report. The Report is supported, in whole or in part, by over 100 NGOs.

The Report is intended to assist the Committee to prepare a List of Issues for Australia during the Pre-Sessional Working Group meeting from 19 to 23 May 2008. It is also intended to ensure that the Committee is equipped to engage in a rigorous and constructive dialogue with Australia when it is reviewed by the Committee in 2009.

The Report is a comprehensive and constructive analysis of the state of ESC rights in Australia and makes a range of targeted recommendations to address disadvantage and poverty. The Report documents a number of areas in which Australia is falling short of its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

It focuses on areas that have been the subject of extensive NGO activity and research in Australia. Subjects detailed in the report include:

the lack of legal recognition and protection of economic, social and cultural rights;
the nature and extent of poverty in Australia and the need for a comprehensive national poverty reduction strategy;
Indigenous self-determination and disadvantage;
the current housing crisis and the significant problem of homelessness;
groups within society that remain vulnerable to discrimination, such as Indigenous peoples, women and children, people with disability, asylum seekers and gay and lesbian couples;
violence against women;
the inadequacy of income and social security supports;
the regression of workers' rights under Work Choices;
the crisis in mental health in Australia and the inadequacy of mental health care;
the chronic under funding of both public health care and education; and
the deleterious impacts of Australia’s immigration law and policy on families and children.
The Report includes recommendations as to concrete steps that Australian authorities should take to bring Australia more fully into compliance with its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; an Australia in which all persons can live with freedom, respect, equality and dignity.

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