In the lead up to International Human Rights Day tomorrow 10 December, Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) acknowledges the first year of Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019 being in effect.
“This is an historic day for Queensland. 2020 is the first year we can mark Human Rights Day with legislated human rights protections for all Queenslanders,” QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh said.
“The first year of the Human Rights Act has seen some unique challenges, with the COVID-19 crisis bringing human rights issues into sharp focus here in Queensland.”
International Human Rights Day is held on 10 December as the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the same day in 1948, 72 years ago.
“Human rights matter every day, for everyone, everywhere. It is incumbent upon all of us to uphold them,” Ms McVeigh said.
“QCOSS is working with the community services sector to maintain and improve people’s human rights. Organisations are increasingly approaching service delivery through a rights-based lens to make meaningful change and improvements to the lives of the Queenslanders our sector supports.”
Ms McVeigh said that a key component of the Human Rights Act is the creation of obligations on government to ensure rights are afforded to all Queenslanders, especially when it comes to the provision of housing, education, disability, physical health and mental health supports.
“As we head into the first fixed four–year term of Queensland’s 57th Parliament, our MPs are now required to keep human rights front and centre when crafting new legislation, and the government must be aware of their obligations in terms of service delivery.
“There are several areas of government service which will benefit from a rights-based approach. For example, the involvement of children in the child protection system raises key human rights issues such as the right to privacy and the right to protection of families and children.
“Legislation that might be considered around consent and mistake of fact must centre on the human rights of victim-survivors.
“Another key issue is the human rights of people for whom English is not a first language and their access to interpretation services so that they can understand and fully participate in decisions and activities that affect them – for example, involvement in justice proceedings or health services.”
2021 will be another landmark year for Queensland and human rights.
“QCOSS looks forward to seeing a continuation of the important work started by the Palaszczuk government on a path to Treaty, which should recognise and value the distinct cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Queensland,” Ms McVeigh said.