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Uniting Church stands out on human rights

UnitingJustice Australia National Director Rev Elenie Poulos.
The Uniting Church in Australia is the only church formally supporting a Human Rights Act in Australia.

The Uniting Church Assembly’s submission to the National Human Rights Consultation, according to UnitingJustice Australia National Director, Rev Elenie Poulos, reflects the Church’s commitment to social justice and the achievement of human dignity for all.

“The Uniting Church believes that every person is valuable. Everyone deserves to live with dignity and security and be treated with respect,” Rev Poulos said.

“The Church believes that it has a responsibility to help build a society free from violence, persecution, abuse and poverty; a society in which all people can live a decent life and hope for a peaceful future. Human rights are one important tool in this endeavour.”

In its submission, the Church supports the development of human rights legislation that will provide “greater protection for fundamental rights and freedoms, promote dignity, address disadvantage and exclusion, and help to create a ‘human rights culture’ in Australia”.

“It is important to remember that the aim of such legislation is to better protect the rights of all Australians. Improving protection for everyone is especially important for people in our society who are disadvantaged and marginalised,” Rev Poulos said.

“We have a pretty good record in Australia but we can do better – for people with disabilities, people who are homeless, elderly people and Indigenous Australians.

“A Human Rights Act will not give more power to judges but it will help to ensure that our Parliament and government departments and agencies pay more attention to the needs of Australia’s most vulnerable people in the drafting and implementation of policies.”

Rev Poulos said that the enormous public response to the consultation was extremely gratifying.

“It has been wonderful to see that so many Australians care about how well we protect human rights,” she said.

It is the hope of the Uniting Church that all Australians will take the opportunity to consider and support a Human Rights Act.

Photo : UnitingJustice Australia National Director Rev Elenie Poulos.