UnitingJustice has made a submission to the Human Rights Commissioner's Consultation into Rights and Responsibilities. This submission highglights the restrictions that current legislation places on the human rights and freedoms of vulnerable groups in Australia, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, refugees and asylum seekers and adherents of religions other than Christianity.

The Uniting Church in Australia Assembly has submitted comments to the Attorney General’s Department on the Exposure Draft of the proposed legislation to amend the Racial Discrimination Act. The Church strongly believes that the proposed Bill should be rejected in its entirety.

In light of the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013, UnitingJustice wrote to the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General expressing its support for the removal of exceptions for religious organisations.

UnitingJustice welcomes the release of the Exposure Draft of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 and its commitment to key international human rights treaties to which Australia is a signatory. UnitingJustice reccomends the bill be passed, but has also proposed improvements.

UnitingJustice welcomes the proposed creation of the role of a National Children’s Commissioner. However, it believes the current role does not go far enough to protect the rights of children and young people. UnitingJustice proposes several changes to the National Children’s Commissioner Bill.

The Uniting Church believes that all people must be equal before the law, and that the Bills proposed balance the rights associated with freedom of religion with the rights of non-discrimination and equality.

Torture is among the most heinous of all human rights violations. It can never be justified, and UnitingJustice believes that the existing legislation does not go far enough to fulfil our commitment to its prevention. The Uniting Church hopes that this National Interest Analysis signals the final step in its implementation into Australian legislation.

The Attorney General has released an exposure draft of the National Human Rights Action Plan. UnitingJustice seeks strong human rights policies which contribute to building a society where the rights of all people are valued and upheld. It is disappointed that the Plan focuses primarily on current activities and commitments, and fails to offer commitments for positive change.

Discrimination is a cause and consequence of poverty, social exclusion and a denial of human dignity. Australia has a confusing patchwork of anti-discrimination legislation and so we support the consolidation project while recommending greater protections for some vulnerable groups.

The Attorney General has invited comment on the recommendations made by the UN to Australia's Universal Periodic Review. In its submission, UnitingJustice highly recommends the implementation of a Human Rights Act which would provide a greater degree of legal protection for people whose human rights have been abused and responds to two areas of concern relating to Australia's treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and asylum seekers and refugees.

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