Delegation of the European Union to Australia

EU annual report on Human Rights and Democracy: Australia

18/06/2020 - 03:10
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The EU has adopted the 2019 Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the world, which provides a snapshot of the EU’s engagement and actions, including an overview of the human rights and democracy situation in Australia.

Australia continues to have a very positive and solid human rights record and is very engaged in advocating progress on human rights issues in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The main human rights challenges at domestic level remain:

  • The overall condition of Australia's indigenous population which remains dramatically behind on many social indicators, such as education, health, percentage of the prison population
  • The unresolved status and condition of migrants caught trying to enter Australia by sea (including refugees/asylum seekers)
  • The occasional long periods of administrative detention of migrants. The accumulation of security legislation over the years has raised a numbers of concerns, most recently on their potential impact on the freedom of the press. The robust debate thereon is a testimony to the strength of democracy and human rights in Australia.

The main EU actions focussed on engaging with Australian officials on human rights issues through high-level meetings/dialogues, demarches and outreach for common actions at international level. The EU engagement with Australia on human rights and development issues in the region continued, including through the EUAustralia-New Zealand trilateral dialogue on the Pacific.

The EU regularly engages with the Australian government, the country's human rights agencies and bodies, and NGOs to promote good  human rights policies and support initiatives to counter racism, gender equality, and other human rights promotion activities.

Examples include support to the Australian Human Rights Commission by sponsoring its Annual Award for ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’. In 2019, the award went to documentary filmakers of The Final Quarter which uses the story of champion AFL footballer and Indigenous leader Adam Goodes to highlight the prevalence of racism in Australia. Read more about the other finalists here.

Another example is the EU Trivia Night with a fund-raising activity in favour of an organisation promoting or advocating human rights. In 2019 the funds raised went to a Not-For-Profit community organisation that provides therapeutic horse facilitated programs and activities for children with disabilities. 

Australia continues to play an active part as a Human Rights Council member, following the key priorities it identified when elected to the Council (gender equality, good governance, freedom of expression, the rights of indigenous peoples, and strong national human rights institutions and capacity building). Its stance is very similar to that of the EU and the EU Member States.

 

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