Submission: Inquiry into the Human Rights (Healthy Environment) Amendment Bill 2023
8 December 2023
ACTCOSS provided a submission to the inquiry into the Human Rights (Healthy Environment) Amendment Bill 2023. While ACTCOSS supports the incorporation of the right to a healthy environment into the ACT’s Human Rights Act, we remain concerned that fundamental economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights continue to be absent from the Act. Given the indivisibility of human rights, the right to a healthy environment is less likely to be fully realised without incorporating the full range of ESC rights into law. For example, the right to housing is intimately connected with building climate change resilience, and the health of an environment and the community that resides within it. Uneven access to the right to health places certain groups at greater risk of the health-related effects of climate change and can also mean such groups are less able to recover from these health effects. ACTCOSS strongly recommends the Human Rights Act be amended to explicitly include the full suite of economic, social, and cultural rights, including the right to housing, physical and mental health, and culture. ACTCOSS also recommends that the ACT Government fully incorporate the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in the Human Rights Act. Expanding the Human Rights Act to include the full suite of UNDRIP rights will help ensure the right to a healthy environment is implemented in a way that supports the rights of First Nations peoples in the ACT.