We hear about human rights all the time, but we don’t necessarily consider those rights in terms of being an everyday Australian, even more specifically Australians who live in regional, rural and remote parts of our continent. The Australian Human Rights Commission incorporates The Human Rights of Rural Australians. Having never given much thought to how this impressive sounding body may affect change for the better I thought I’d share some of the organisations mandate as it applies to rural Australians.
“Every person in Australia, regardless of who they are or where they live, is entitled to respect for and protection of their human rights. People living in remote, rural and regional Australia often find it harder to fully enjoy their human rights because of their location.
For example, living in a rural, regional or remote area of Australia may impact on a person’s enjoyment of the following human rights…” (Australian Human Rights Commission – The Human Rights of Rural Australians).
The list includes the right to education, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to vote.
We all know that distance and inaccessibility, climate and weather, and the insecurities of the rural economy (the joy of being price-takers instead of price-makers for producers) can severely limit the ability of people in regional areas to access goods, services and opportunities. So what does the Commission do to tackle these problems?
They hold inquiries, oversee community health projects, have consultative meetings to ascertain specific problems and areas of need, and they undoubtedly release a whole heap of research publications and papers – which few of us have probably ever heard of let alone read.
They have however released a list of ‘specific human rights issues’ currently faced by people living in rural and regional Australia which include:
access to, and quality of – education / mental and other health services / communication
how to overcome Indigenous disadvantage
How to manage the effects of climate change
Now, wouldn’t it be great to see some answers or more spectacularly be given some idea of how this organisation is affecting change.