Monday, 23 November 2009

Social Inclusion Week spotlights the need to think inclusively

The Australian Human Right Commission welcomes today’s launch of Social Inclusion Week.

Commission President Cathy Branson said the week provided an opportunity to celebrate our commitment to creating an Australia where everyone can get a ‘fair go’.

“Social Inclusion Week is a time to consider the efforts we are individually and collectively making towards creating a genuinely inclusive society,” Ms Branson said.

“It is also a time to reflect on the challenges we, as a community, face in creating a society in which all, including the more vulnerable among us, are able to participate fully in all aspects of community life. Ensuring that we better understand and respect human rights is one of these challenges,” she said.

“Knowing about your human rights, and also about your obligations to respect the rights of others, is critical to an inclusive society.”

She said the Social Inclusion Agenda focused attention on key human rights such as: the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living and to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; the provision of the widest possible protection and assistance to the family; and the right to live free from discrimination.

“Social Inclusion is also about ensuring that every child has access to an education which will develop the child’s abilities to their fullest potential,” Ms Branson said. 

“Social Inclusion reminds us that if these rights are to be enjoyed by all, it is important that we address multiple and persistent disadvantage, and that we recognise when intervention and assistance to individuals or families is critically required. It reminds us also of how essential it is that we maintain supportive and functional communities.”

Ms Branson said the Commission was currently involved in several projects that advanced the social inclusion agenda including the Close the Gap Campaign for Indigenous health equality and efforts to promote adequate retirement incomes for Australian women.

Other Commission work that has a strong social inclusion dimension includes:

  • research into the life long impacts of hearing impairments and deafness on Indigenous children;
  • national consultations on the barriers and positive strategies to improve social inclusion for   people from African Australian backgrounds;
  • mapping the geography of racism in Australia and developing locational strategies to promote cohesion; and
  • advancing the participation of people with a disability and their families by improving accessibility in areas such as public transport, public  buildings, education and media - such as cinema and TV captions.

“The Australian Human Rights Commission is keen to strengthen the Social Inclusion Agenda so that it benefits all people in Australia,” Ms Branson said.

“We are also thinking about how social inclusion approaches can positively influence our own ways of working with communities.

“I hope that Social Inclusion week will remind everyone to consider these questions and challenges.”

Media contact: Louise McDermott 02 9284 9851 or 0419 258 597