Submission: Social security is about making sure every person in Australia has an income that allows them to live with dignity

Social security is about sharing our national prosperity fairly to make sure that no individual or family is trapped in grinding poverty. It is a fundamental human right.

Successive governments have, however, let some of the most powerless members of our community down. They have done this by implementing policies that have allowed the wealthy to get richer, while refusing to increase social security payments to a level that would allow people going through hard times to take back control of their lives. Further, Governments have created increasingly rigid and punitive rules that are causing severe financial and emotional stress for families. Nowhere is this starker than in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Social Security Commission Bill 2018 (the Bill) would establish a Commission to provide independent, evidence-based advice to Government about the minimum levels of social security payments required to ensure that every person in Australia has an income that allows them to live with dignity.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s submission supports the Bill, calls for immediate action to abolish the remote Community Development Program and raise the rate of inadequate social security payments. It also endorses the recommendations of Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT, which focus on steps required to address stark economic injustices in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Download the submission to the Review into the Social Security Commission Bill 2018 (Cth).

Housing Rights: Submission on the Adequacy of Public Housing in Victoria

In January 2010, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre made a Submission to the Victorian Legislative Council Family and Community Development Committee's inquiry into the adequacy and future directions of public housing in Victoria. The Centre submits that the future direction of public housing requires a holistic rights-based approach from government, based on the legislative entrenchment of the right to adequate housing. 

Download the HRLC submission here.

Housing Rights and the Meaning of 'Public Authority': Metrowest Housing v Sadi

In November 2008, the Centre was granted leave to appear as amicus curiae in a matter concerning the meaning of ‘public authority’ under the Victorian Charter.  This is a question of great significance, as it is public authorities who are bound to act compatibly with and give proper consideration to human rights.  The issue arose in the context of an application by Metro West Housing Services Ltd, a private non-profit company, for orders of possession against two groups of vulnerable tenants. Section 4(1)(c) provides that, for the purposes of the Charter, a public authority includes ‘an entity whose functions are or include functions of a public nature, when it is exercising those functions on behalf of the State or a public authority (whether under contract or otherwise)’.

The Centre submitted that while ‘there cannot be a single litmus test of what is a function of a public nature’ (see YL v Birmingham City Council [2008] 1 AC 95 at [65] per Baroness Hale), a number of principles should guide the Tribunal’s consideration of s 4(1)(c).

Download the HRLC submission here.

Housing Rights: Submission to Australian Parliament on Homelessness Legislation

On 28 August 2009, the Centre made a Submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth inquiry into proposed homelessness legislation for Australia. Homelessness is a human rights issue and is both a cause and a consequence of poverty and other human rights violations.  Therefore, the Centre submitted that the Australian Government’s response to homelessness should adopt a human rights-based approach in order to address the complex human rights issues that homelessness raises. 

Download the HRLC submission here.

Voting Rights: Enfranchising People Experiencing Homelessness and Imprisonment

In July 2008, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre, together with the PILCH Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic and the Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, made a Submission to the Parliament of Victoria Electoral Matters Committee Inquiry into Voter Participation and Informal Voting.

Download the HRLC submission here.