Over the next fifteen months Australian community and non-government organisations have a unique opportunity to hold Australian governments accountable for their record on eradicating poverty and upholding the economic, social and cultural human rights of all Australians. These human rights include:
In accordance with its legal obligations, the Australian Government has submitted a report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which ostensibly details the steps the government has taken to uphold these rights for all Australians. However, at VCOSS and ASERP we believe that the Governments report does not reflect the social and economic hardships facing many Australians.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is undertaking a preliminary review of the status of economic and social rights in Australia in May 2000, followed by a final review in November 2000. In reviewing Australia, the Committee wants to hear from those on the frontline of struggles against discrimination and poverty. It recognises that non-government organisations (NGOs) have a vital role to play in monitoring Australias human rights performance, by "filling in the gaps" in the Government's report.
The Australian Social and Economic Rights Project (ASERP) provides a framework for NGO participation in the UNs review of Australia.
The Victoria Working Group (VWG) was formed in July 1999 as a subgroup of ASERP. We aim to coordinate the research and drafting of a citizens' report on social and economic rights issues in Victoria. We will present this report to the Committee in May 2000.
The following sub-committees have been formed to prepare a report:
To prepare this report, your input is essential. Essentially, what is required is information and evidence illustrating Federal and/or State government breaches of the rights enshrined in the Covenant. Breaches and restriction of rights may occur in direct and indirect ways, and may include factors such as the availability of funds and institutional arrangements, in addition to any express restrictions placed on the exercise of those rights. This information might take the following forms:
The citizens' report aims to address issues arising out of articles of the Covenant, so please do not limit your input to issues raised only in the Government's report. Your research must relate to Victoria, and be as brief as possible.
You can either contact ASERP as set out below with your comments, or use the online information feedback form available on this website.
The VWG will circulate its draft citizens' report widely for comment, before it is finalised.
Then join one of the sub-committees and give your valuable input, alternatively send in your key concerns and issues to be included in the report. Life stories of human right violations, will give the report a human touch as well as make statistics come alive. Please send this as soon as possible, to the address below, or use the online information feedback form available on this website.
If you are interested in participating in the Victoria Working Group contact Barry Hahn @ VCOSS on +61.3.9654 7498, and have your name added to the mailing list. Regular meetings are held at VCOSS and we will keep you informed.
You can also email enquiries or comments to the VWG.
ASERP working groups are operating in New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. Please contact the Victoria Working Group as above for contact details.
Created: 22/09/1999 J.A.S.
Updated: 3/11/1999 J.A.S.
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