Showing posts with label human rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label human rights. Show all posts

Monday, 18 March 2019

Even as it devours itself the Morrison Coalition Government is determined to impose its warped 1950s ideology on women and girls



On that day the Australian Human Rights Law Centre said that the [UN] High Commissioner highlighted the importance of the right to social security and of recognising the value of unpaid care work in addressing women’s inequality.  Yet the Australian Government was steadily undermining its social security system and making life harder for many women.  Currently it was imposing its punitive ParentsNext programme on single mothers accessing social security.

And Mexico and Finland, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, stated that human rights bodies’ remedies must fulfil the rights of victims, and include adequate, effective and prompt reparation.  Women and girls in humanitarian settings were particularly vulnerable to human rights violations such as sexual and gender based violence, human trafficking and forced abortions. 

After a motion was put forward in relation to Mexico and Finland’s concerns 57 countries including the United Kingdom signed the subsequent statement.

According to SBS News on 11 March 2019  the motion broadly called for greater accountability for human rights violations against women and girls and the statement proposed greater implementation of 'policies and legislation that respect women and girls' right to bodily autonomy'. This included guaranteed universal protection of women's sexual and reproductive health, comprehensive sexuality education and access to safe abortion.

Australia refused to be a signatory to this official UN statement.


Why was reference to existing law so important to Australia?

The highlighted section in the Human Rights Law Centre news release below gives the answer.

The Morrison Government - dominated as it is by middle-aged far-right men - refuses to open the door to debate on decriminalising abortion in the last three states which still retain a prohibition of abortion in their criminal codes.

Apparently Scott Morrison is averse to any debate on this issue, as in his own high-handed, paternalistic words “I don’t think it is good for our country”.


The Morrison Government has failed to sign on to an International Women’s Day statement at the United Nations calling for access to safe abortions, comprehensive sexuality education and sexual reproductive health.

As recently as last week, in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council, the Australian Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, said the number one guiding principle for the Government's time on the Council was "gender equality". Yet when 57 countries came together on International Women's Day to support a motion proposed by Finland and Mexico, the Morrison Government chose not to back it.

Edwina MacDonald, a Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, who is attending the session in Geneva, said it was extremely disappointing to see the Australian Government once again fail to live up to its promises at the UN.

“Being able to make choices about our own bodies and access reproductive health are absolutely essential to achieving gender equality. No government can truly support gender equality and human rights without supporting access to safe abortions and reproductive rights," said Ms MacDonald.

In Australia, abortion is still in the criminal statute books in New South WalesSouth Australia and Western Australia. This is a recognised form of sex discrimination in international human rights law. The criminalisation of abortion harms women by making it harder to access safe and compassionate reproductive healthcare.

"The Morrison Government holds a really important role on the Human Rights Council, it should be using its voice at the UN to stand up for the rights of women all around the world. Instead we get hollow words here in Geneva and a failure to lift its game back home. It's so disappointing," said Ms MacDonald.

Australia was elected for a three-year term on the UN Human Rights Council in October 2017.  [my yellow highlighting]

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Tweets of the Week



Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Wangan and Jagalingou people's fight against foreign mining giant Adani continues into 2019



ABC News, 25 January 2019:

The United Nations has asked the Australian Government to consider suspending the Adani project in central Queensland until it gains the support of a group of traditional owners who are fighting the miner in court.

A UN committee raised concerns that the Queensland coal project may violate Indigenous rights under an international convention against racial discrimination if it goes ahead, giving Australia until April to formally respond.

Meanwhile, a public interest legal fund backed by former corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald has stepped in with financial backing for a federal court challenge to Adani by its opponents within the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people.

The Grata Fund, which boasts the former federal court judge as a patron, agreed to pay a court-ordered $50,000 bond so W&J representatives can appeal a court ruling upholding a contentious land access deal secured by the miner.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last month wrote to Australia's UN ambassador to raise concerns that consultation on Adani's Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) "might not have been conducted in good faith".

These allegations "notably" included that members of the W&J native title claim group were excluded, and the committee was concerned the project "does not enjoy free, prior and informed consent of all (W&J) representatives"….

UN committee chair Noureddine Amir in a letter told Australia's UN ambassador Sally Mansfield the committee was concerned ILUAs could lead to the "extinction of Indigenous peoples' land titles" in Australia.

Mr Amir said it was "particularly concerned" by 2017 changes to native title laws to recognise ILUAs not signed by all native title claimants, "which appears to be in contradiction" with an earlier landmark Federal Court ruling.

"Accordingly, the committee is concerned that, if the above allegations are corroborated, the realisation of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project would infringe the rights of the Wangan and Jagalingou people, rights that are protected under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination," Mr Amir said.

The committee gave Australia until April 8 to outline steps taken to ensure proper consent "in accordance with Indigenous peoples' own decision-making mechanisms".

It asked Australia to "consider suspending" the Adani project until consent was given by "all Indigenous peoples, including the Wangan and Jagalingou family council".

It invited Australia to seek expert advice from the UN experts on Indigenous rights and to "facilitate dialogue" between the W&J and Adani.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Australian Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety now underway


Commencing in 2016-17 when Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison was then just the Federal Treasurer he cut $472.4 million from Aged Care funding over four years, then followed that up with a $1.2 billion cut over the same time span.

When deteriorating conditions in nursing homes around the country began to be reported in the media and the Oakden scandal came to light in 2017, concerned citizens began to call for a royal commission.

The Liberal Minister for Aged Care and Liberal MP for Hasluck Ken Wyatt was of the opinion that such an inquiry would be “a waste of time and money”.

Once Scott Morrison realised that ABC Four Corners was about to air an exposé on aged care provision he quickly changed his mind and announced the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety on 16 September 2018.


The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was established on 8 October 2018 by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).

The Honourable Richard Tracey AM RFD QC and Ms Lynelle Briggs AO have been appointed as Royal Commissioners…

The Commissioners are required to provide an interim report by 31 October 2019, and a final report by 30 April 2020…
The Commissioners were appointed to be a Commission of inquiry, and required and authorised to inquire into the following matters:
a.    the quality of aged care services provided to Australians, the extent to which those services meet the needs of the people accessing them, the extent of substandard care being provided, including mistreatment and all forms of abuse, the causes of any systemic failures, and any actions that should be taken in response;
b.    how best to deliver aged care services to:
                i.        people with disabilities residing in aged care facilities, including younger people; and
               ii.        the increasing number of Australians living with dementia, having regard to the importance of dementia care for the future of aged care services;
c.    the future challenges and opportunities for delivering accessible, affordable and high quality aged care services in Australia, including:
                i.        in the context of changing demographics and preferences, in particular people's desire to remain living at home as they age; and
               ii.        in remote, rural and regional Australia;
d.    what the Australian Government, aged care industry, Australian families and the wider community can do to strengthen the system of aged care services to ensure that the services provided are of high quality and safe;
e.    how to ensure that aged care services are person‑centred, including through allowing people to exercise greater choice, control and independence in relation to their care, and improving engagement with families and carers on care‑related matters;
f.     how best to deliver aged care services in a sustainable way, including through innovative models of care, increased use of technology, and investment in the aged care workforce and capital infrastructure;
g.    any matter reasonably incidental to a matter referred to in paragraphs (a) to (f) or that [the Commissioners] believe is reasonably relevant to the inquiry.

A preliminary hearing was held in Adelaide on 18 January 2019.

At this hearing the Commissioner Tracy stated in part:

The terms direct our attention to the interface between health, aged care and disability services in urban, regional and rural areas. These issues necessarily arise because of Australia’s changing demography. We are also required to look at young people with disabilities residing in aged care facilities and do our best to deliver aged care services to the increasing number of Australians living with dementia. Part of our task is to examine substandard care and the causes of any systemic failures that have, in the past, affected the quality or safety of aged care services. We will consider any actions which should be taken in response to such shortcomings in order to avoid any repetition. This will necessarily involve us in looking at past 25 events. There have been a number of inquiries which have considered matters that, in certain respects, fall within our terms of reference. We are not required by the Letters Patent to inquire into matters which we are satisfied that have been, is being or will be 30 sufficiently and appropriately dealt with by another inquiry or investigation or a criminal or civil proceeding. As a general rule, we do not intend to re-examine matters which have been specifically examined in previous inquiries. We do, however, expect to examine the changes and developments which have followed previous inquiries, as well as the extent to which there has been implementation of recommendations from those inquiries. Where we have different views, they will be made known.

According to ABC News on 18 January 2018: Out of almost 2,000 Australian aged care providers invited to shed light on the sector ahead of the royal commission, only 83 have been forthcoming with information, the Adelaide inquiry was told.

The Guardian on 18 January reported: Counsel assisting Peter Gray said the commission had received more than 300 public submissions since Christmas Eve and 81% concerned provision of care in residential facilities, with staff ratios and substandard care the most common themes. The federal health department has also passed on 5,000 submissions it received before the commission’s terms of reference were set.

Interested members of the public can still make submissions as the Royal 
Commission will continue to accept submissions until at least the end of June 2019.

Details on how to make a submission can be found here.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Proposed Religious Discrimination Act looks a lot like PM Scott Morrison appealing to his 'base' ahead of the May 2019 federal election


On 13 December 2018 Australia's 'interim' Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook, Scott Morrison, announced that his government intended to protect religious freedom in Australia and to protect the rights of Australians to be themselves by way of a new piece of legislation titled the Religious Discrimination Act.

Not a line of this legislation appears to have been put down on paper to date even though it is apparently expected to come before the Australian Parliament in the seven days or so it will sit before the May 2019 federal election.

One would have thought that religious freedom and diversity of faith was thriving in Australia given over 127 different formal manifestations of religious faith/spirituality exist in its cities, towns and villages without ongoing overt community discord or institutionalised discrimination.

Even former Liberal Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock concedes the Religious Freedom Review he led found little evidence that discrimination is occurring in Australia. That lack of hard evidence at population levels mean that government cannot reliably assert that religious discrimination as a form of harm is an existing problem requiring the 'solutions' it is proposing - such as Prime Minister Morrison's idea of a religious freedom commissioner to handle religious discrimination complaints, even though it was not recommended by the review

As religious faith holds no interest or importance for up to 15 million of the est. 24.6 million Australians alive today, I'm sure a good many voters are wondering what the fuss is all about and why Morrison is intent on protecting against nebulous future enemies which do not yet exist and whose probability appears to exist in his mind and nowhere else

After all, the Australian Constitution bars the creation of a state religion as well as barring laws prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, organised religions receive tax exempt status, education in faith-based primary & high schools is funded by the federal government and, discrimination in employment or occupation on the basis of religion is already unlawful under federal legislation. 

One has to suspect that the real intention of this new Religious Discrimination Act is to justify and codify discrimination by organised religions against individuals and groups in the wider secular society.

BACKGROUND



*61% of Australians say religious faith/spirituality plays no part/little part in their decision making;
*21% don’t believe there is any God/spirit/life force;
*a further 14% used to believe in God but don’t anymore;
*38% never pray or meditate;
*47% never attend a religious service; and
* only 18 % of Australians regularly attend religious services.


Friday, 14 December 2018

Human Rights 2018: when forgetting is not a good thing



The Guardian, 11 December 2018:

As those who lived through two world wars die out, taking with them real memories of past atrocities, the world is back on a path to self-destruction, a leading authority on torture has warned.

Human rights are facing a “worrying backlash” from a global community that has failed to “learn the lesson” of the past.

Speaking exclusively to the Guardian, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said the global community had become “complacent” in the face of injustice because the world no longer understood why human rights should be protected or what the world would look like without them.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 70 years after world war two, when the last witnesses of past atrocities are dying away, we start to see human rights being questioned on a broad scale,” said Melzer, a Swiss law professor who assumed the UN post in 2016.

“The generation that had the answer is almost gone. They left behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for us, but it is as if its message is no longer understood, and it looks like we will have to learn the same lesson the hard way again.”

Melzer’s comments mark the 70th anniversary of the declaration in a week when world leaders are in an uproar over global migration flows, with numerous countries backing out of a UN compact in Marrakech seeking to make migration a universal right.

Melzer pointed to the grave human rights violations occurring in key migration routes as proof that the global community now considers human rights a “luxury” instead of a right….

The first major dismantling of human rights began after 9/11, said Melzer, who worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at the time. He said that the “global war on terror” saw the use of torture increasingly tolerated in public opinion as well as in mainstream entertainment….

The global erosion of human rights is just one crisis among many, said Melzer, from migration and the environment to financial instability, energy, poverty and cyber security. Rather than provide solutions to these problems, however, world leaders are instead “promoting regressive policies focused on national interests and decrying human rights as a threat to national sovereignty and security”.

Melzer added: “We must understand that, in a world full of globalised challenges, human rights are the very basis for our safety, stability and prosperity, and that any significant erosion of these rights will cause the collapse of our modern civilisation.


Thursday, 1 November 2018

The Morrison Government is puckering its lips to blow on a dog whistle or two?


Ever since Scott Morrison - as then Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection - imposed a complete media blackout on asylum seekers arriving by sea, voters have never been quite sure how to take the Liberal-Nationals boast that they had “stopped the boats".

Every so often an inconvenient highly visible landing on our shores revealed that the boats had never stopped coming.

Now faced with increasing pressure to close Manus and Nauru as offshore detention sites, Prime Minister Morrison and his political cronies have to once again hype up the threat of ravening hoardes of undocumented immigrants by drawing out attention back to those boats.

The Australian, 24 October 2018, p.6:

....Operation Sovereign Borders has prevented more than 3300 asylum-seekers coming to Australia by turning back 33 boats and successfully disrupting ­nearly 80 people-smuggling ventures in the past five years.

The Australian can reveal that since September 2013, at least 2525 people have been stopped from boarding boats to Australia because of co-operation with neighbouring countries which has led to the disruption of 78 people-smuggling operations.

In addition, 33 boats trying to ferry just over 800 asylum-­seekers to Australia were stopped on the high seas or turned back.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton yesterday told parliament that advice from the Operation Sovereign Borders agency heads was that the “threat of people-smuggling has certainly not gone away”....

According to the Refugee Council of Australia on 3 August 2018 there were:

3,127 people have been sent to Nauru or PNG as part of offshore processing arrangements

An estimated 1,534 people are still on Nauru or PNG as of 29 July 2018, and as of 30 June 2018 219 are still in Nauru Regional Processing Centre

947 people have left ‘voluntarily’, including through resettlement, as of 29 July 2018, and since September 2012 to May 2018  646 people have left Manus and 165 from Nauru ‘voluntarily’ to their country of origin, and 20 people were forcibly removed from Manus

494 people have been transferred to Australia for medical treatment, and 460 of them were still in Australia as of 21 May 2018 (based on official information that 294 people had left for the US as of 30 April 2018 and reports of another 121 people resettling in the US since then)

7 people had left for Cambodia, as of 30 April 2018

372 people have been accepted by the US (including those who have left), and 121 have been refused by the US, as of 21 May 2018

By far the largest number of those refused are from Iran (70), although 15 Iranians have been accepted

There are 170 families on Nauru, including 99 families which have 158 minors, as of 26 February 2018

There are at least 100 children who have been born to people subject to offshore processing, as of 23 October 2017

There are nine nuclear family units split between Australia and offshore processing, as of 23 October 2017

There are 583 recognised refugees left in PNG, and 821 recognised refugees on Nauru, as of 21 May 2018.

Australia also holds people in onshore immigration detention and as of 31 July 2018:

Numbers of people in held detention: 1,345 with key sites being Villawood (502), Christmas Island (173), and Yongah Hill (262) 

Average length of detention: 446 days, with 267 people having spent more than 730 days in detention

Numbers of people held in detention because they came seeking asylum by boat: 315

Number of children: in detention facilities including ‘Alternative Places of Detention’: 5, in Nauru Regional Processing Centre: 12, in community detention: 176, and in the community on a bridging visa E: 2,835

Number of people in community detention: 386, from Iran (221), stateless (46) or from Sri Lanka (36), with 245 people having spent more than 730 days in community detention

Key nationalities of people in detention: New Zealand (174), Vietnam (104), Sri Lanka (89), and Iran (103).

To date there are reportedly 200 asylum seeker children and their parents in legal limbo in Australia with no clear path to either Australian citizenship or the full protection under international law, because although government sources are allegedly saying to the media that these children will never be returned to Manus or Nauru there are no guarantees in place.

As of 29 October 2018 50 children remain on Nauru.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Morrison Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government begins to position itself for forthcoming federal election


No, the Morrison Coalition Government has not suddenly developed empathy for others, a genuine understanding of its obligations under international law or a measure of respect for Australian courts.


Sensing the growing threat to its chance of holding onto government Messrs. Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton are finally allowing very ill children detained in offshore detention on Nauru to enter Australia for medical treatment.


ABC News, 22 October 2018:

Australian Border Force officials have revealed 11 children were transferred off Nauru today for medical attention, with another 52 minors remaining on the Pacific island.
Officials have amended the figure to 11 after initially saying it was 16.

The update comes as the federal Greens float a compromise agreement that could allow families to resettle in New Zealand with their families.

The Federal Government has indicated it may accept New Zealand's offer to take up to 150 refugees, but only if legislation passes Parliament ensuring people sent to offshore detention can never travel to Australia.

Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo said that legislation, which has been sitting in Federal Parliament since 2016, would close a "back door" to dissuade further boat arrivals.

According to the latest figures, there are 652 people on Nauru, with 541 classed as refugees and 23 as failed asylum seekers. The status of another 88 is yet to be determined.

The United States has accepted 276 people as part of a resettlement deal and rejected an additional 148.

There is growing pressure from crossbench MPs for the Government to accept New Zealand's offer, with incoming independent Kerryn Phelps describing the issue as a first priority.

The Greens are now open to considering a travel ban for the group, but only if all children are first brought to Australia for medical treatment, and restrictions only applied to the cohort sent to New Zealand.

"We need to put the politics aside and look after these children, who are being traumatised and brutalised right now," leader Richard Di Natale told the ABC.

"If resettlement after that means resettlement in New Zealand with limited restrictions, just on that group, that's something we will consider.

"What we won't consider is putting bans or restrictions [on] those people who have been left behind.".....

Monday, 15 October 2018

Australian Politics 2018: Liberal and Nationals hard right agenda revealed


It appears the rigid hard-right core of the Liberal and National parties, whose face for public consumption is Prime Minister Scott Morrison, thought that Australian voters would find it acceptable that the only people that religious institutions of any denomination would not be able to discriminate against will be heterosexual individuals and those born with absent or ambiguous secondary sexual characteristics.

Everyone else would apparently be fair game for every rabid bigot across the land.

Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender citizens and their children are not to be afforded the full protection of human rights and anti-discrimination law in this New World Order.

It doesn't get any clearer than the main thrust of the twenty recommendations set out  below.

However, now the cat is out of the bag Morrison is backtracking slightly. Just hours after arguing schools should be run consistent with their religious principles and that no existing exemption should be repealed, Scott Morrison told Sky News that he was "not comfortable" with private schools expelling gay students on the basis of their sexuality. 

Rejecting new enrolment applications by gay students was something he was careful not to directly address.

It should be noted that "not comfortable' leaves a lot of wiggle room to look the other way as state and federal legislation is either amended or new Commonwealth legislation created which would allow this blatant discrimination to lawfully occur.


Recommendation 1
Those jurisdictions that retain exceptions or exemptions in their anti-discrimination laws for religious bodies with respect to race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status should review them, having regard to community expectations.

Recommendation 2
Commonwealth, state and territory governments should have regard to the Siracusa Principles on the Limitation and Derogation Provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights when drafting laws that would limit the right to freedom of religion.

Recommendation 3
Commonwealth, state and territory governments should consider the use of objects, purposes or other interpretive clauses in anti-discrimination legislation to reflect the equal status in international law of all human rights, including freedom of religion.

Recommendation 4
The Commonwealth should amend section 11 of the Charities Act 2013 to clarify that advocacy of a ‘traditional’ view of marriage would not, of itself, amount to a ‘disqualifying purpose’.

Recommendation 5
The Commonwealth should amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to provide that religious schools can discriminate in relation to the employment of staff, and the engagement of contractors, on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status provided that:
The discrimination is founded in the precepts of the religion.
The school has a publicly available policy outlining its position in relation to the matter and explaining how the policy will be enforced.
The school provides a copy of the policy in writing to employees and contractors and prospective employees and contractors.

Recommendation 6
Jurisdictions should abolish any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws that provide for discrimination by religious schools in employment on the basis of race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status. Further, jurisdictions should ensure that any exceptions for religious schools do not permit discrimination against an existing employee solely on the basis that the employee has entered into a marriage.

Recommendation 7
The Commonwealth should amend the Sex Discrimination Act to provide that religious schools may discriminate in relation to students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status provided that:
The discrimination is founded in the precepts of the religion.
The school has a publicly available policy outlining its position in relation to the matter.
The school provides a copy of the policy in writing to prospective students and their parents at the time of enrolment and to existing students and their parents at any time the policy is updated.
The school has regard to the best interests of the child as the primary consideration in its conduct.

Recommendation 8
Jurisdictions should abolish any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws that provide for discrimination by religious schools with respect to students on the basis of race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status.

Recommendation 9
State and territory education departments should maintain clear policies as to when and how a parent or guardian may request that a child be removed from a class that contains instruction on religious or moral matters and ensure that these policies are applied consistently. These policies should:
Include a requirement to provide sufficient, relevant information about such classes to enable parents or guardians to consider whether their content may be inconsistent with the parents’ or guardians’ religious beliefs
Give due consideration to the rights of the child, including to receive information about sexual health, and their progressive capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Recommendation 10
The Commonwealth Attorney-General should consider the guidance material on the Attorney-General’s Department’s website relating to authorised celebrants to ensure that it uses plain English to explain clearly and precisely the operation of the Marriage Act 1961. The updated guidance should include:
A clear description of the religious protections available to different classes of authorised celebrants, and
Advice that the term ‘minister of religion’ is used to cover authorised celebrants from religious bodies which would not ordinarily use the term ‘minister’, including non-Christian religions.

Recommendation 11
The Commonwealth Attorney-General should consider whether the Code of Practice set out in Schedule 2 of the Marriage Regulations 2017 is appropriately adapted to the needs of smaller and emerging religious bodies.

Recommendation 12
The Commonwealth should progress legislative amendments to make it clear that religious schools are not required to make available their facilities, or to provide goods or services, for any marriage, provided that the refusal:
Conforms to the doctrines, tenets or beliefs of the religion of the body
Is necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of that religion.

Recommendation 13
Those jurisdictions that have not abolished statutory or common law offences of blasphemy should do so.

Recommendation 14
References to blasphemy in the Shipping Registration Regulations 1981, and in state and territory primary and secondary legislation, should be repealed or replaced with terms applicable not only to religion.

Recommendation 15
The Commonwealth should amend the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, or enact a Religious Discrimination Act, to render it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a person’s ‘religious belief or activity’, including on the basis that a person does not hold any religious belief. In doing so, consideration should be given to providing for appropriate exceptions and exemptions, including for religious bodies, religious schools and charities.

Recommendation 16
New South Wales and South Australia should amend their anti-discrimination laws to render it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a person’s ‘religious belief or activity’ including on the basis that a person does not hold any religious belief. In doing so, consideration should be given to providing for the appropriate exceptions and exemptions, including for religious bodies, religious schools and charities.

Recommendation 17
The Commonwealth should commission the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative information on the experience of freedom of religion in Australia at the community level, including:
Incidents of physical violence, including threats of violence, linked to a person’s faith
Harassment, intimidation or verbal abuse directed at those of faith
Forms of discrimination based on religion and suffered by those of faith
Unreasonable restrictions on the ability of people to express, manifest or change their faith
Restrictions on the ability of people to educate their children in a manner consistent with their faith
The experience of freedom of religion impacting on other human rights
The extent to which religious diversity (as distinct from cultural diversity)
is accepted and promoted in Australian society

Recommendation 18
The Commonwealth should support the development of a religious engagement and public education program about human rights and religion in Australia, the importance of the right to freedom of religion and belief, and the current protections for religious freedom in Australian and international law. As a first step, the panel recommends that the Attorney-General should ask the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to inquire into and report on how best to enhance engagement, education and awareness about these issues.

Recommendation 19
The Australian Human Rights Commission should take a leading role in the protection of freedom of religion, including through enhancing engagement, understanding and dialogue. This should occur within the existing commissioner model and not necessarily through the creation of a new position.

Recommendation 20
The Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Attorney-General should take leadership of the issues identified in this report with respect to the Commonwealth, and work with the states and territories to ensure its implementation. While the panel hopes it would not be necessary, consideration should be given to further Commonwealth legislative solutions if required.

Because Scott Morrison made no secret of his dislike of same-sex marriage and his intention to make new laws protecting so-called religious 'freedoms'. he is now going to have a fight on his hands every single day until the next federal election - these recommendations have made that a certainty.