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Solicitors brief UN Committee on Women and Human Rights in Australia

Maria Nawaz and Tess Deegan, law reform solicitors from Kingsford Legal Centre (KLC), met with the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and briefed them on Australia’s human rights performance.

Nawaz and Deegan are in Geneva leading an NGO delegation to the UN to deliver the Australian NGO submission report and give the UN Committee an overview of the human rights situation on the ground in Australia for women.

Kingsford Legal Centre coordinated the report, which details Australia’s women’s rights record, with the National Association of Community Legal Centres, Community Legal Centres NSW and Good Shepherd Australia.

The findings show that human rights, in particular women’s rights, are not effectively protected under Australian law.

Key examples of human rights violations experienced by Australian women in the report include:

  • the incidence of violence against women, an endemic issue in Australia, with 1 in 3 women experiencing physical violence;
  • the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to participate in public life, access basic healthcare, and enjoy family, economic and social rights are severely endangered by over-incarceration and endemic discrimination; and
  • women continue to face barriers in the workplace, including pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment and a significant gender pay gap.

The UN Committee will now review Australia’s human rights performance and compliance with its women’s rights treaty obligations and hand down recommendations in late July 2018.

Maria Nawaz expects that the Committee will deliver a suite of wide-ranging recommendations, including suggesting a human rights act, that would better protect the human rights of Australian women, and that reflect Australia’s current disappointing performance.

“Australia can do better, and should do better,” Nawaz said.

“It’s time for our Government to lift its’ game and step up with real leadership on the issue of human rights for women. At the moment, the Government’s inertia is failing to ensure equality for all women in Australia. We deserve better.”

Source: UNSW Sydney

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