Race Discrimination Commissioner, Helen Szoke, has released Principles to promote and protect the human rights of international students at the Australian International Education Conference in Melbourne today, calling on organisations working with International Students to ensure basic human rights are protected.
“These Principles will ensure safe, positive and productive stays for international students, who come to Australia to study,” Commissioner Szoke said. “They promote principles of good practice and will provide guidance to people, organisations and government agencies that provide services to students and develop policy in relation to them.”
Given that there is no single body or organisation that is responsible for addressing the issues and concerns faced by international students, Commissioner Szoke said that a set of guiding principles would be an invaluable asset to the organisations and individuals that jointly share this responsibility.
“We are all aware that some international students have faced very difficult times while studying in our country and the sector itself has been placed under the microscope and criticised,” Commissioner Szoke said. “Given that discrimination, harassment, violence and other breaches of human rights can have a serious impact on a person’s life, their sense of safety, their health and the opportunities available to them, the need for guidance through principles such as these is very real.”
Commissioner Szoke said the publication features four core principles: enhancing the human rights of international students; ensuring all international students have access to human rights and freedom from discrimination protections; understanding the diverse needs of international students; and empowering international students during their stay in Australia.
“Each of these principles is broken down into practical actions that apply to individuals and organisations that deal with international students, as much as they also apply to governments and their departments and agencies,” said Commissioner Szoke.
“Without being prescriptive, we have designed this publication to be as practical a resource as possible,” Ms Szoke said. “We have also worked hard to include examples of real initiatives – from a diverse group of service providers, education and community organisations - that are already delivering good practice in the spirit of the Principles.”
Commissioner Szoke said the Commission had developed the Principles in consultation with key individuals and organisations, including international students and their representative bodies, representatives of the international education sector, academics, government departments and agencies and organisations that provide services to international students.
The Principles are available at: www.humanrights.gov.au/racial_discrimination/international_students.html
Media contact: Brinsley Marlay (02) 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529
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