Attorney General’s Department comments on why actions were removed from Final National Human Rights Action Plan

24 May 2013

       

The final National Human Rights Action Plan was released on 10 December 2012. A number of commitments made by the Government in the exposure draft were removed from the final NHRAP. The Human Rights Law Centre contacted the Attorney-General’s Department to ask why they had been removed. We have now received the AG’s response, provided in the table below.

 

Original Commitment

HRLC comment

Government Response

Establish an advisory group on data collection with the aim of improving measurement of progress on human rights.

 

This commitment has been removed.

 

 

A pilot project on the development of human rights indicators will focus on one Convention – the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination that the National Anti-Racism Partnership (NARP) will steer. The NARP strongly supports the project. The results/outcomes of this pilot will inform future consideration on expanding the project.

Report against a range of human rights outcome indicators.

This commitment has been removed and replaced with a project limited to indicators relating to race discrimination.

 

Review Australia’s reservations under the Optional Protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Children in Armed Conflict Article 3(5) and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Articles 12, 14 and 18.

The commitment has been removed.

 

 

 

 

 

The statements Australia has entered under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) are declarations, not reservations. 

 

Declarations are statements that clarify the meaning or scope of treaty provisions.  They do not have the same legal effect of reservations and are not governed by the commitments made by the Government in the Universal Periodic Review process. 

 

Therefore the OPAC and CRPD should not have been included  in the exposure draft of the National Human Rights Action Plan and they were removed from the final version to correct this error.

Provide $100,000.00 per financial year over 2011/2012 to the Australian Human Rights Commission to support participation by representatives of Indigenous Australians in key international forums on human rights

The commitment has been removed.

This item was removed from the action plan as it was specific to the 2011-12 period. A new funding agreement for this purpose is expected in 2012-13.

Provide $2 million over four years to non-government organisations to develop and deliver community education and engagement programs

The amount of $2 million has been removed, in favour of not including a dollar figure. This would appear to be linked to the Government announcement in November 2012 that it would not fund any new projects under the “Grants to Australian Organisations Programme”.

As part of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook process, the Government undertook a review of grants expenditure across the whole government.  On 22 October 2012, the Government finalised that process and announced it would be reducing uncommitted grant funding by $157.5 million in 2012-13.

The decision provides scope for monetary policy to respond to economic developments and underpins confidence in Australia’s public finances at a time of global economic uncertainty.  Given reduced revenues since the GFC, spending in a range of areas has had to be closely looked at.  Savings have been generated from grants programs across a range of portfolios.

In accordance with that decision, the removal of the funding amount reflects that 2012-13 funding under the Human Rights Education Grants Program has been redirected to other Government priorities and will not be available to fund new projects.  Grants already awarded under the program are unaffected by the decision. Existing recipients will receive funding as set out in their agreements.

The Government remains committed to human rights education.  For example, the Attorney-General’s Department recently launched a new human rights e-Learning module for public servants. 

Provide funding to the National Committee for Human Rights Education to hold two seminars on human rights indicators in schools.

The commitment to has been removed. This may be linked to the cuts in funding to the Human Rights Education Programme announced in November 2012.

This commitment has been fulfilled.  It was not affected by the decision to reallocate 2012-13 funding under the Human Rights Education Grants program to other Government priorities.  The Attorney-General’s Department partnered with the National Committee for Human Rights Education to assist with two seminars on advancing human rights education in Australia.  Schools education is a focus area of the seminars.  The first seminar was held in Adelaide in November 2011 and the second took place in Melbourne in June 2012. 

An ongoing commitment to continue to undertake assessments prior to removal for people who meet certain identified risk criteria, and to allow for Ministerial intervention, to ensure that the principle of non-refoulement,

 

The commitment has been removed.

This action was removed due to the introduction of complementary protection legislation which has resulted in non-refoulement claims being assessed as part of the protection visa process rather than as part of the Ministerial Intervention process under section 417 of the Migration Act 1958.

 

The commitment to require non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees to report on key gender equality indicators.

This commitment has been removed.

The Action Plan is a point-in-time document reflecting current actions as at 25 September 2012.  This item was not included in the Action Plan at that time as the Bill changing the reporting requirements was before the Parliament at the time (Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012).  The Bill has now passed and received Royal Assent on 6 December 2012.  Under the new Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, amongst other things, non-public sector employers with 100 employees or more will be required to report annually against a set of gender equality indicators, focussing on outcomes.

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