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COVID-19 and human rights

In times of crisis, human rights are more important than ever. In a short period of time our lives have changed dramatically. Critical decisions are being made with the urgent aim to protect the health and safety of people and their livelihoods. It is worth remembering that our human rights frameworks were designed to see us through times like this – difficult times, uncertain times – where it’s vital that we hang onto humanity in the face of extraordinary challenges and consider the longer term consequences of actions and decisions that we make now.

Emerging issues

Statement: The Omnibus Amendment Bill and human rights

24 September 2020 / Throughout the pandemic, we’ve advocated for human rights to be at the centre of the government’s decision-making. Proposed amendments to the Public Health and Wellbeing Act contained in the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2020, currently before the Victorian Parliament, raise some potential risks for Victorians’ human rights.

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The four key areas we are focusing on

Embedding human rights during COVID-19

Here at the Commission, while our physical offices are currently closed, we remain committed to ensuring the dignity and safety of every Victorian. To do this, we’re focusing on four key areas:

  • Embedding human rights during COVID-19
  • Reducing racism during COVID-19
  • Improving workplace equality during COVID-19
  • Protecting human rights in closed environments during COVID-19

We know that many of those who will be most affected are those who are older and increasingly isolated, those with disabilities who are unable to access the care and support they need, people experiencing homelessness, women and children in abusive relationships, people who are in forms of detention, and those who have lost incomes or have precarious employment arrangements.

Importantly, we’re continuing to provide our enquiries and complaints services which can now be accessed remotely. Through our live chat service and video conferencing, we’re ready to answer any questions you have about discrimination, sexual harassment or vilification and to help you resolve any complaints.

All the indications are that we will be collectively living with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for some time to come. Whether in quarantine or isolation, or chartering our way back to a more normal way of life, we will need to weather this together, and ensure that the vulnerable amongst us receive support and care.

Ensuring the health and safety of all Victorians during this period will require care, compassion and close cooperation across all sectors, and we are committed to playing our part.