Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council – 17th Session

Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences

Statement by Australia
3 June 2011

The Australian Government thanks the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression for his report.

We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s consideration of the application of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to new communication technologies, such as the Internet. Australia recognises the significant role of the Internet in allowing individuals to exercise this right.

We agree that it is important to make the Internet widely available, accessible and affordable to all segments of the population. The Australian Government is currently progressing an important national infrastructure project which will deliver high-speed broadband to all Australians. Australia would welcome further comments by the Special Rapporteur about initiatives that States have put in place to bridge the ‘digital divide’ discussed in the report.

The Australian Government welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.

The Australian Government has a zero tolerance policy on violence against women and is committed to reducing all violence in the Australian community. All forms of violence against women are unacceptable, in any community and in any culture.

In February 2011, all of Australia’s Governments at the Federal, State and Territory level endorsed the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 (The National Plan). The National Plan coordinates government efforts to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault in Australia over the next 12 years. In the first three years, the National Plan focuses on primary prevention, particularly on assisting young people develop respectful relationships and build the coverage and quality of statistical data on violence against women.

Women with Disabilities Australia, the peak disability advisory body, has representation on the Violence Against Women Advisory Group for the National Plan. Strategies under the National Plan are intended to reduce violence against all women, and some immediate national initiatives include specific action for women with disability.

The Australian Government is also working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and communities, state and territory governments, and non-government organisations to address domestic violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Australian Government announced in the 2011-12 Budget that it will invest AUD 96.4 million over four years for initiatives to eliminate violence against women and to help women affected by violence in developing countries throughout East Asia and the Pacific.

This reflects the Australian Government’s determination to reduce violence against women globally and in our region. Activities will include establishing and improving crisis services, strengthening counselling and legal support, and sharing best practice approaches.

We thank the Special Rapporteur for her important work in ending discrimination and violence against women, including visiting different countries to assess the situation for women. We agree with the Special Rapporteur that a holistic approach is needed to end violence against women.