STRONGER TOGETHER: Speaking up for human rights

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"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses speaking up about human rights.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Have you ever truly thought about what human rights really means and how it applies to you? 

Today marks the start of Human Rights Week, which runs until 10 December. When we think of human rights, we often think on a global scale. For many of us, issues like war, famine and oppression come to mind, but It's important that we scale our view down and look at human rights through a community lens, too. 

This year's Human Rights Week theme is Close to Home, so it's the perfect time to examine how human rights plays out in our local region. 

At its core, human rights is about people. It's about protecting your right to the things we take for granted every day – drinking clean water, eating food, being able to see a doctor when we need to, going to school, being able to say or write what we truly think or practicing a religion if we so choose. 

In Queensland, our human rights are protected through the Human Rights Act 2019. It's a document that we should all be familiar with; building a culture of human rights starts with community, and we are all responsible for ensuring everyone has equal access to their basic human rights. 

Despite this, not everyone in our community is always afforded the same rights. Even in our own communities, sometimes people are denied their basic rights because of some aspect of who they are – the colour of their skin, their sexuality, their gender, religion or perhaps because they have a disability. 

It is up to us to speak up when we see someone’s human rights being denied. Turning a blind eye makes you part of the problem, so if you see someone being excluded, bullied, harassed or denied their basic needs it’s important to stand up and speak up. Standing up for human rights is something that we can all participate in.

People with disabilities are one group often denied access to their basic human rights. Tomorrow is also the International Day for People with Disability, which aims to create a more inclusive, equitable and accessible society.

This year's theme is Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world. It's so important that we continue to strive towards making our community inclusive for people living with a disability and for everyone, and to continue ensuring that every single person's basic human rights are met. 

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on equality and belonging for Human Rights Week 2021.

There is no shortage of collective nouns for various species – a pride of lions, school of fish, pack of wolves, even a loveliness of ladybugs.

For groups of people there are words like crowd, circle, family, community; but humankind is one that collectively we need to continue to strive to live up to.

To be treated fairly and as a human being really isn’t asking the world and yet across the globe people are unjustly being treated and judged as less than.

This reality is heartbreaking. Particularly in comparison of the kindness humanity has proven to be capable of throughout the present and the past.

Human rights are based on principles of dignity, equality and mutual respect, which are shared across cultures, religions and philosophies.

This year’s Queensland Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Week, December 1-10, theme is Make equality your priority.

Their site states one of the key principles that underpins human rights protections, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Queensland’s Human Rights Act, is the right to equality and non-discrimination.

This is a lynchpin for daily operations at IMAPCT Community Services.

IMPACT is a member of Diversity Council Australia and has ideals of equality and inclusion embedded in our core values:

Build trust in relationships, empower others, be compassionate, celebrate uniqueness, work together, create positive impact and strive for excellence.

Each of these values underpin a workplace which enables everyone to thrive within their jobs.

When people are encouraged to be their best self and fulfil work that’s meaningful to them, there’s a greater follow-on effect whereby community and business likewise prosper.

While it comes as no surprise that when equality and safety is promoted people have a greater sense of belonging is achieved – the importance of belonging cannot be understated.

Establishing belonging is more than a matter of procedure, it’s wellbeing on an individual, business and community level.

Without it, people can be isolated and feel unworthy which can have devastating impacts on one’s mental health and ultimately the depth and success of a community.

A sense of belonging can take many forms, for Maslow and many others it’s a need and it’s worth investing in.

You deserve to be treated fairly – you belong.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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