Centring human rights in the COVID-19 recovery
What might life look after COVID-19? As we head towards the next stage of the pandemic, we have an opportunity to start thinking about how Victoria can recover in the months ahead – how we can embrace equality and non-discrimination as key principles, embed democratic accountability as an essential foundation, and encourage broad community participation to help shape the Victorian response.
What has become clear in recent months is that it’s essential that we keep human rights front and centre in the recovery. The disruption from the pandemic has been significant, not just economically, but socially too. And while many Victorians have felt the impact of COVID-19, some groups – those most affected by systemic inequality such as working mums, Aboriginal people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and people with disabilities – have been acutely affected.
Rebuilding a sustainable economy, re-establishing community connections and creating a way of life that prioritises safety, equality and inclusion will require close collaboration between government and the community. It will rely on building public trust through democratic accountability and ensuring human rights are upheld in policing and corrections. It will rely on recognising and addressing the gendered impacts of the pandemic, understanding the experiences of people with disabilities, and strengthening protections from racism for Victoria’s multicultural and multifaith communities.
Threading through all of this work is the importance of participation – enabling the community to shape decisions that affect their human rights. It is only when we listen to and learn from the experiences of those most affected by the pandemic that we can develop a recovery plan that responds to the needs of the community and fosters genuine community engagement.