4 things Scott Morrison's new cabinet can do right now for human rights

In the wake of weeks of shocking revelations about workplace culture and the treatment of women in federal politics, The Morrison Government have reshuffled their cabinet. Among these new ministerial appointments are Senator Michaelia Cash to Attorney General, Peter Dutton MP to Defence, and Karen Andrews MP to Home Affairs. Senator Marise Payne has been dubbed the “Prime Minister for women” by Scott Morrison himself; and Senator Anne Ruston will add women’s safety to her portfolio.

Prime Minister Morrison has stated that these changes will “shake up what needs shaking up”. Here are 4 things the new cabinet can, and should do right now for human rights in Australia:

1. Demand safety for women and girls

Despite improvements in the lives of women and girls as a result of the women’s rights movement, women in Australia continue to experience violence, sexism, and misogyny. In recent weeks, women like Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins and Dhanya Mani have reminded us that there is still so much to do to ensure that survivors of sexual assault have access to justice. Trans women and gender diverse people experience sexual violence at twice the rate of the general population.

Australia has signed up to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. This means that it committed to take action, so Australian women can enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms. It’s clear this isn’t happening. The Australian government isn’t doing enough. Call on our leaders to do more to keep women and girls safe now.

2. Call #GameOver, and bring those detained by Australia’s detention regime to safety now

More than 700 refugees and people seeking asylum were still detained in PNG and Nauru when we launched our #Game Over campaign at the beginning of 2020. Right now, about 250 people remain in PNG and Nauru. Another 150 are detained here in Australia. We’ve already seen more than 100 people released from so-called alternative places of detention (APODs) into the community, so there is no reason for the rest of the people held for eight years in limbo to continue to be detained.

Peter Dutton has said in Question Time, that the NZ solution is ‘still on the table’. That is of course, the Australian Government accepting New Zealand’s long-standing offer of resettlement. Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has the ability to immediately resolve the suffering of those trapped in Australia’s cruel offshore detention regime. Demand the Government bring these people to safety now.

People call #GameOver outside Preston’s Mantra Hotel in Melbourne. © Amnesty International

3. #RaiseTheAge of criminal responsibility, once and for all

Across Australia, children as young as 10 are charged, brought before a court, sentenced and locked up behind bars. Instead of putting kids this young behind bars, governments can fund Indigenous-led solutions and community programs which have better outcomes for children and communities.

We can work to keep children out of the quicksand of the youth justice system. Senator Cash must take the opportunity to lead the States and Territories on raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14. Add your name demanding the Government #RaiseTheAge now.

Fluffy teddy bears in a row, looking out of prison bars
Fluffy toys behind bars, representing the children as young as 10 years old locked behind bars in QLD.

4. Halt the flow of arms and military assistance to members of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition for use in Yemen

Yemen is right now enduring one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises – and Australia is complicit. The government is supplying military exports to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — two countries committing war crimes in Yemen.

Minister Dutton must use Australia’s leverage as an ally to call for the Saudi-led Coalition to fully comply with international humanitarian law in conducting airstrikes, by ensuring that civilians and civilian objects are not targeted. A growing list of countries have already cut off arms supplies to the Saudi-led coalition, because of human rights violations in Yemen. Minister Peter Dutton must ensure Australia does the same. Add your name demanding this now.

© iStock/MicheleAlfieri
© iStock/MicheleAlfieri