Submission: To the National Human Rights Action Plan Baseline Study

The overarching recommendation of this submission was that the government reconsider its methodological approach to the baseline study.

The baseline study should outline the full range of Australia's human rights obligations, indicators for meeting those obligations and an assessment of where Australia lies in relation to each of those indicators. 

Our views in summary

Our submission expressed our concern that the Baseline Study falls significantly short of meeting its potential and requirements. The document was a compilation of government initiatives, plans and achievements directed at a range of 'minority groups'. While the government has introduced many effective initiatives for each of these groups, a baseline study is an opportunity to comprehensively document the state of play for human rights in Australia. 

We submitted that the Baseline Study should be reorganised to reflect the seven human rights treaties to which Australia is a party. 

In particular, the Baseline Study could consider:

  • The full range of human rights obligations that Australia is committed to upholding as a party to the seven core human rights treaties;
  • An analysis of the indicators, which could be used to assess the extent to which those human rights are covered in Australia;
  • An assessment of where Australia lies in relation to each of those indicators.

Our submission stated that the Baseline Study was too heavily weighted to a discussion of civil and political rights, and fails to discuss many of the fundamental social, economic and cultural rights. Further, by compartmentalising issues according to gender or race, the study fails to deal with the whole experience of some of our most vulnerable citizens (such as women with disability or children who are Aboriginal).