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18 March 2016

The Australian Government’s performance on the protection of human rights has recently been considered under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. This is a cooperative peer review process by Member States held every four years under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). At this time, no other universal human rights review mechanism exists.

The UPR process enables the international community and the Australian Government to consider the following:

  • How well the human rights of all people in Australia are protected
  • What concrete measures the Australian Government will take to improve human rights protections for all people in Australia.

UNICEF Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement of a national consultation on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2016. The consultation will provide an important opportunity for government and civil society to discuss how business practices and operations may impact on children and their communities. We further encourage the Australian Government to set out clear commitments under a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

UNICEF Australia remains concerned that the Australian Government has not committed to adequate action in the following areas

  • the situation of children and families in immigration detention in Australia, and those who are held offshore in Nauru. We urge the Australian Government to consider alternative models to detention, and the practice of boat turn backs that are consistent with our international obligations.
  • outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who remain significantly overrepresented in the juvenile justice, and out of home care systems. UNICEF Australia encourages the Australian Government to redirect investment into early intervention and strengthening vulnerable families.
  • the diminishing role of Australia’s Overseas Development Assistance program contrary to achieving the minimum international standard to support developing nations. We encourage the Australian Government to take an initial step to meet our obligations and reverse the scheduled 2016/2017 cut to the aid budget of $224 million.