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2021 Human Rights Action, or Rather, Inaction

Written with Annasis Liz Kelly

Human rights core fundamental worth is that all people are treated as equals, covering a wide range of areas it is said to be high on the list of values within Australia. But we are regularly left asking how can it be equal when it is dependent on your colour, beliefs, sexual orientation, social stature and gender.

Australia has proven over and again that, if you are a white, straight, Christian male with financial means, you can get away with a fair bit of crap. We merely need to look at the times a politician has been sacked instead of charged to know this is true. But can a trans woman of colour who is poor get the same deal? How about an Indigenous child whose family have been heavily involved with the police for that child’s entire life? No, in fact these demographics are treated like they are the worse people in the world; when in most instances they have done nothing to deserve such treatment.

My own life experience includes a Mother who judged her husband as innocent of raping a child, valued his time and respect as worthy. While towards her own blood, it’s like she says “Liz your sexual orientation is one I do not like and makes you unworthy of the same respect I give my husband.” Christian beliefs instilled into the Australian society valuing those human rights so highly. As children, we are taught that if you want respect then you first show it, but when these are our teachers, the people meant to guide societies values where do human rights come into your purview?

When the British came to Australia, they never showed any regard to the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders yet when the English demanded respect none was given so they were smacked and degraded into submission. Today, British and Aussie citizens still wonder why First Nations Australians refuse to respect the European descendants, when we don’t show any themselves.

Equal human rights include aspects such as abiding by international laws with regards to how Aussie rights are managed. But, Thursday, 13 September 2007 the United Nations adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Australia was not among one of the countries to adopt the Act, even though First Australians aided in the creation of the document.

Human rights include the right to live free of torture. Recently while scrolling through Twitter I have seen posts discussing accounts of torture from someone I follow; many Australian’s follow this man, just as many know of him and his plight. He is someone we have locked up, a man we are subjecting to acts of torture! His name is Nauroze Anees, and Border Force Australia are holding him at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney, NSW.

Wednesday 17 February Nauroze posted on Twitter, as he does most days, in this tweet he shared a video and wrote: “Not content with keeping me in Solitary Confinement & withholding my vital medications. Now @AusBorderForce is playing loud music via the intercom speaker at 0450am, to keep me sleep deprived. They don’t just want to kill me, they want to do it painfully.”

 

 

Saturday 6th March he posted: “To Date the Australian LNP Govt has subjected me to State Sanctioned: 1509 Days of #ArbitraryDetention, Physical Torture, Psychological Torture, Sleep Deprivation Torture, Withheld my Medication, Solitary Confinement, Dehumanisation.”

 

 

We know why he’s been locked up, well we think we do at least. Australia’s government have been extremely tight-lipped over the immigration policy currently being worked on. Jacqui Lambie recently wrote an article for the Canberra Times where she explained why she was back flipping on her promise to reveal the policies, stating:

“The problem I’m facing is that the agreement I made gets torn up if I reveal it. Not out of spite, mind you. The reason it gets torn up is because it can’t be delivered if it’s out in the open. It literally can’t be. To work, the people affected can’t know.”

My issue with trust, is the fact that numerous human rights have been impeded for decades. For example, women, elderly, and Indigenous rights have been violated as have the many individuals in this country live below the poverty line on welfare payments. Rights regarding accessing health care services are all but denied to the remote First Nations communities facing epidemics in preventable and treatable diseases such as Acute Rheumatic Fever or Trachoma. Basic rights for example water or fresh foods all but denied to the remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. With these facts in mind, it is very difficult to extend the trust the Government are requesting when it comes to the immigration policies being worked on by our politicians.

Australia has a long way to go before we are ready to tackle human rights with an adequate plan. If it wasn’t for black men in America who voicing outrage regarding the mistreatment and lack of equality, women in general wouldn’t have been able to have their own rights established. Even then there are more than a few issues.

Included within the UN standards of Human rights is having full control over one’s finances regardless if they are working or receive welfare from governments. But, in Australia this right was refused to those relying upon Centrelink Payments to live. Initially this program was introduced in the NT in 2007 and solely focused at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations; after the NT Intervention was enacted. This first program was named the Basics Card and distributed 50% of social security payments onto the card while the rest was deposited into a nominated bank account. December 2020 other regions in Australia have been forced onto the Indue CDC, or Indue’s Cashless Debit Card. One of the main differences between the Basics and Indue cards is that the latter has 80% of social security payments restricted to the card, where the individual is unable to access their money as cash. Any extra income, such as family tax returns, or even advance payments from Centrelink are 100% on both cards. You have to ask permission to use any extra money.

These cards have shown to be extremely concerning for those forced to use them. Disabling the parents to provide for their families. For example, due to the inability to access cash, families are unable to purchase a cheap air-conditioning unit, or fridge. If they (Centrelink) deem it too much money to spend, yet you are left to swelter in the heat or feed a family without a fridge.

Both cards now subjected to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, with the hopes of becoming a national program for all individuals accessing welfare payments in Australia. Resulting in a violation of the basic human rights for every citizen forced to rely upon them!

With money being paid by the government to Indue to manage it at approximately $10k per person. All to “stop drugs and alcohol” being consumed. But with punitive measures like this, no wonder why numerous people turn to these substances as a means of evading the reality of their lives. Approximately 80% of women are on this card. Some have escaped from DV to be controlled by someone else.

Is this the legacy we want left for our future children? Remember, Australia, if we wish to retain the title of a first world country, we had best behave as though we are one!

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3 comments

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  1. pierre wilkinson

    ‘With money being paid by the government to Indue to manage it at approximately $10k per person.”
    there you have it in a nutshell: the government pays its’ supporters a tidy dividend per customer and then accepts donations back from said supporter, controls their spending and limits their opportunities without interfering in the drug, alcohol and gambling problems that the card was introduced to supposedly control
    the review of the cards calls them an unpopular and unmitigated failure but the government would have you believe that they are universally accepted and applauded for achieving their aims – talk about trumpian dystopia
    and how much to house two little girls and their parents, under guard, at Christmas Island?
    I am also sorry about what is happening to legitimate refugees, so very sorry that both sides of politics get this so wrong

  2. RosemaryJ36

    This is one of many faulty policies created by a government which controls people who do not need control while allowing others to create havoc.

  3. Matters Not

    pierre wilkinson – you might be on to something re government payments to Indue and then accepts donations back from said supporter. so perhaps good advice would be that you make a report to the AEC.

    Fact is – many have claimed but no one (not a one) has proven anything. So until then …

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