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September 16, 2015

Government commits to Parliamentary Inquiry into Human Rights Act; this will help tackle Domestic Violence

by dankrogers

On Monday night, a large number of community organisations gathered at Parliament House to show their support for a campaign to introduce a Human Rights Act in Queensland. The Government committed to a parliamentary inquiry into a Human Rights Act in Queensland. This is a great step for our State. There is a growing momentum for this reform and the recent spate of domestic violence incidents is just another reason why we must all support human rights for Queenslanders.

The scourge that is domestic violence must stop. A multi-faceted approach is necessary. We must look to all tools within our armoury to help fight this war. A Human Rights Act should be part of the Queensland Government’s response to domestic violence. More funding, more laws and more police powers are expected outcomes from a community in crisis. However, these changes do little to drive cultural change. There is much debate about the benefits of a Human Rights Act. However, at a minimum, it is a loud statement by our elected Government about who we are and what we value.

Violence against women violates the right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to liberty and security of person, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the right to equality in marriage and family relations and at times it violates the right to be free from torture and the right to life. Violence against women is also a form of discrimination. These are rights that should be publicly recognised and protected in Queensland law. A Human Rights Act can do this.

Human rights legislation exists in other jurisdictions including the ACT, Victoria, the UK, New Zealand and Canada. Human Rights legislation in the ACT and Victoria commits public authorities to actively respect and protect human rights. On a practical level, this means that all public authorities must consider the human rights implications when making policy decisions. Similarly, it helps to bring rights to the forefront of public officials minds when providing services and making decisions.

A Human Rights Act would also give women who have experienced violence new tools when seeking protection of their rights including access to adequate and appropriate services. Most importantly, it says a lot about who we are and what we don’t tolerate.

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