On Monday the 10th of December 2018 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70. It’s a day that marks the anniversary of a milestone document – the most translated in the world – adopted by the United Nations proclaiming the inalienable rights that every human being is inherently entitled to regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
The establishment of the Declaration of Human Rights has been a catalyst for the universal protection of the most vulnerable members of our society. But here in Australia, as one of the few countries in the Western world that does not have a Bill of Rights, when it comes to people seeking asylum we still have a long way to go.
Right now, the rights of people seeking asylum are being threatened by the Australian government’s ruthless treatment of people seeking refuge from harm. People seeking the same rights to fairness, freedom and safety that we all expect.
For many people seeking asylum trying to navigate the complicated and unfair ‘Fast Track’ process – an impossible system that’s set up for them to fail – our Human Rights Law Program (HRLP) at the ASRC is their only chance at protection, providing free legal help to people seeking asylum. They are seeing some of the most compelling humanitarian circumstances routinely refused, sent back to countries when it’s known they’re unlikely to survive.
The ASRC’s Principal Solicitor, Carolyn Graydon and her team face a dark legal world every day in the plight to fight for the basic human rights of people seeking asylum.
Over the past two years our non-profit community legal centre has faced unyielding pressure as caseloads continue to increase, while the government simultaneously shifts the goalposts for existing applications and processes, making it almost impossible to keep up with appeals and new policies designed to deter and derail applications for asylum.
Despite the constantly changing legal landscape, the HRLP team and their extensive network of pro-bono partners are unwavering in their commitment and determination to represent those most vulnerable in our communities.
As the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approaches, at the ASRC we are reflecting on what Australia has become in relation to the rights of people seeking asylum and focusing on the role that we can play to fight against injustice. We want to ensure that we can confidently look back on this time and say we did everything that we could.
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home.”Leave a reply →