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Focus on human rights protection this Human Rights Day

Published: 9 December 2016

The Australian government must make a stronger commitment to fulfil its human rights obligations, the President of the Australian Association of Social Workers, Professor Karen Healy AM, has said on the eve of Human Rights Day.

“The AASW has serious concerns over recent policy decisions relating to asylum seekers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, abuse victims and LBGTI people,” said Professor Healy.

“Every human being has the right to dignity and freedom from intimidation and persecution but in many ways, the Australian government is still failing to protect these fundamental rights.”

Professor Healy says social workers see first-hand the devastating consequences of government policies that neglect the freedoms provided by the United Nations (UN) Declaration.

“Social workers have just recently been warning of the harm done to children and adults in offshore detention, including the risk of long term trauma and abuse,” she said.

It’s been almost 50 years since the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Professor Healy says the government’s failure to address concerns about refugees and asylum seekers shows our country has a long way to go to ensure everyone is afforded basic human rights.

“Failing to address the concerns expressed by allied health professionals and other members of our community puts Australia in direct breach of its international human rights obligations,” said Professor Healy.

“We are living in a political climate of increasing intolerance and division. That is why days like Human Rights Day are so important to recognise and reaffirm our shared humanity.”

The AASW represents over 10,000 professional social workers who are committed to working with communities and individuals to promote wellbeing, human rights and social justice.

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AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers