Media release: This Human Rights Day ACTCOSS calls on the ACT Government to legislate all economic, social and cultural rights

10 December 2020

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today marked International Human Rights Day by calling on the ACT Government to enact all economic, social and cultural rights into legislation and fully realise the goal of the ACT as a human rights jurisdiction.

ACTCOSS Chief Executive Officer Dr Emma Campbell said: “ACTCOSS is proud that in 2004, the ACT was the first Australian jurisdiction to implement a human rights Act. It remains one of only three jurisdictions in Australia to have a human rights Act.

“Human rights are enjoyed by everyone regardless of gender, race, disability and other points of difference. They help to ensure equality for all by providing a framework to guide legislation, policy and practice.

“However, the ACT Human Rights Act 2004 does not include all economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights. So far, only the right to education and the right to work has been legislated.

“To fulfil the promise of the ACT as a human rights jurisdiction, we must recognise the full suite of ESC rights including the right to housing; the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to physical and mental health; and the right to a healthy environment.

“Introducing all economic, social and cultural rights will establish a robust human rights framework that recognises the interrelated nature of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights. For example, how do we safeguard a right to education if our Human Rights Act doesn’t protect the right to physical and mental health?”

Dr Campbell said: “Reflecting on 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the right to health must be protected through legislation.

“We also call on the ACT Government and all ACT political parties to publicly commit to supporting a federal Human Rights Act.”

Forum: Right to health, COVID and pandemic responses

When: Thursday 10 December 2020, 12pm-1.30pm

Where: online

Register: via Eventbrite

Cost: free.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact

Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.

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