Australian Social and Economic Rights Project

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Social & Economic Rights


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:

  • the right to work;
  • the right to social security;
  • the right to an adequate standard of living, including housing and food;
  • the right to physical and mental health;
  • the right to education; and
  • the right not to suffer discrimination with respect to these rights;

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 Government’s 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 Australia’s 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 UN’s review of Australia.

Victoria Working Group

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:

  1. Physical & Mental Health
  2. Education
  3. Social security, including the right to food and a decent income
  4. Housing
  5. Work and Labour
  6. Indigenous issues
  7. Discrimination issues

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:

  • Practical examples of rights in breach.
  • Community initiatives to remedy breaches.
  • Measures government could adopt to ensure their compliance with its obligations.
  • Statistics which may complement or contradict government statistics.
  • Reports and studies.
  • Federal and/or State legislation that impacts on these rights.

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.

Want To Get Involved?

  • If you have concerns that the situation of your client group is deteriorating or not improving as a result of government action or inaction – including cuts to services, discriminatory laws or practice;
  • If you have concerns that the direction of government policy is having an adverse effect on poor or marginalised communities or the rights of particular groups;

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.

6th Floor
130 Little Collins Street
Melbourne 3000

Groups in Other States

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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