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.

UnitingJustice has submitted to two parliamentary bills on public scrutiny and welcome the progress Australia has made on a Human Rights Framework.

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.

The Attorney General has released a background paper for the development of a National Human Rights Action Plan for Australia. UnitngJustice encourages the Government to identify new commitments to human rights issues to ensure that the Plan is not primarily an explanation of existing programs.

UnitingJustice strongly supports the passage of these bills. It welcomes the Government’s commitment to the prevention of human rights violations in Australia, and recommends that the committee be given an expanded mandate, further assistance and adequate time frames enabling it to conduct its own scrutiny of proposed legislation.

Every few years, Australia must submit a report on how it’s meeting its human rights obligations. This regular review is the Universal Periodic Review. These are comments to the Attorney-General’s Department about what should be included in the Report.  UnitingJustice believes that the formal apology to the Stolen Generations and the conduct of the National Human Rights Consultation are positive steps to include in the Report. The violations of human rights in the Northern Territory Emergency Response and the treatment of asylum seekers must also be acknowledged.

UnitingJustice believes that all legislation should be assessed against the international human rights standards which Australia has committed to uphold. It believes that Parliament needs to have a greater role in the protection of human rights, and as such it supports the recommendation of the Committee of the National Human Rights Consultation that a new Joint Committee on Human Rights be established.

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