Wagstaffe call for human rights law
Several local residents turned out for a Human Rights Get Up Get Together at Wagstaffe Hall on June 11.
Meeting convenor Ms Victoria Collins from Killcare Heights said the group came together to affirm the need for Australia to establish a new law to protect and promote human rights.
"We believe that, if adopted, the new laws should be carefully and simply worded, in a similar fashion to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Ms Collins said.
"Their intent must be clear and concise, so as not to be able to be exploited by those seeking loopholes in the law to either get around the intent of the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities that we envisage, or to pervert its aims by creating legal precedent against their aims.
"We believe that our human rights should include access to water enough to sustain human life in Australia."
Ms Collins said the meeting was a great experience for participants to share their opinions and experiences on the issue of human rights.
"One of our participants Noel Olive explained that it was important to him, as a result of his experiences in the Kimberley, that the Aboriginal people have enshrined in any future human rights charter, the right to control their traditional lands and make the ultimate decisions about it," Ms Collins said.
"We all agreed that any Australian charter should mandate the right for all our people to earn a living enough to support a family, or themselves, and to receive a fair day's pay, for a fair day's work.
"Through a story that Ty Johnson told, of a friend who is a single mother and sufferer of domestic violence, we agreed that one of the basic rights that all Australians should have, is the right to shelter and the right for all to have access to a social safety net.
"Any future charter of rights and responsibilities must also codify and give guidance to all citizens as to what their baseline responsibilities as citizens are, how we expect all residents of Australia to be treated, and how we should treat and respect others.
"Also, how laws must be framed in such a way as to respect the human rights of everyone in this country, whether they be citizens, tourists, asylum seekers, guest workers, or foreign students.
"It was the strong belief, also, of our group that equal access to legal representation, absent a cost burden, be a mandatory right for all our citizens.
"Steven Turner suggested that it was a human right to have a healthy environment in Australia.
"Brenda Underwood would like to see a citizen's right to travel freely enshrined, especially as regards private road proliferation.
"That is, all citizens should have the right to travel on all roads, and all roads should be owned by the citizens ultimately, even if they need to be paid off over a period of time to reach public ownership.
"Jean Callender urged that companies, who have the status of individuals at law, also be subject to control of their behaviour by any future human rights act, or charter of rights and responsibilities.
"Thus we believe that Australia, and all who function within it as individuals, should be subject to a rights and responsibilities charter', simply, clearly, and concisely put.
"Get Up is an independent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation giving everyday Australians opportunities to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues.
"Whether it is sending an email to a member of parliament, engaging with the media, attending an event or helping to get a television ad on the air, GetUp members take targeted, coordinated and strategic action.
"GetUp does not back any particular party, but aims to build an accountable and progressive Parliament - a Parliament with economic fairness, social justice and environment at its core."