Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

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Should we play the rights card? Criminalising alcohol consumption while pregnant

Graphic sourced from the 'Drinking Diaries' blog:

Graphic sourced from the ‘Drinking Diaries’ blog:

By Mhairi Cowden

Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

A recent study, undertaken by the Lililwan Project, found that 50% of 8 year old aboriginal children  attending school in the Fitzroy Valley have signs of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD is more widespread than many imagine. It is referred to as an ‘invisible disability’ as it often goes undetected. In order to address this, the Northern Territory Government is currently considering a proposal to introduce legislation allowing criminal prosecutions of pregnant women for drinking. Continue Reading →

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New National Children’s Commissioner — Triumph or Timewaster?

By Mhairi Cowden

Following an intense few months of lobbying by advocacy groups, it was announced earlier last year that the Gillard government would establish a new National Children’s Commissioner within the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

For nearly 20 years advocacy groups within Australia have been calling for the role to be established and it is exciting to see Australia finally take an important step forward in fulfilling its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC).

Having achieved this important goal it is now worth asking — will a National Children’s Commissioner work to enhance and secure the rights of Australian children, or will they be just another adult in the hierarchy of government?

Here I present a case for cautious optimism. Continue Reading →