UN Human Rights Council – 20th Session
Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Health and the Special Rapporteur on Education
19 June 2012
Australia thanks the Special Rapporteurs for their reports and their commitment to promoting the rights to health and education respectively worldwide.
We agree that occupational health and safety is an integral component of the right to health and are committed to ensuring all workers are afforded the highest standards of work health and safety regardless of where they work around the country.
Our commitment to work health and safety is demonstrated by our ratification on 10 August 2011 of the Protocol to the Occupational Health and Safety Convention, 1981 (Protocol 155), which requires ratifying countries to place responsibilities on employers to record and notify the relevant authorities of occupational accidents and diseases.
Since 2008, we have sought to introduce robust and harmonised occupational health and safety laws in all domestic jurisdictions.
These laws comprise a model Act, supported by model Regulations and model Codes of Practice and are complemented by a national compliance and enforcement policy.
To date, six out of nine jurisdictions have enacted such harmonised laws in their jurisdiction.
In 2011 Australia also ratified Convention 175 on Part Time Work, which requires that part-time employees receive the same protection as full-time workers for occupational health and safety, discrimination in employment and occupation and the right to organise and bargain collectively.
We also share the Special Rapporteur’s concern with the risk posed by asbestos to health and safety.
We recognise the deadly legacy that has been left in our homes and workplaces through the use of asbestos in construction.
Since December 2003, Australia has banned the use of asbestos in the workplace and prohibited the import or export of products containing asbestos. In 2011 we ratified the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention 162 on Asbestos.
We note recommendation (k) of the Special Rapporteur on Health’s report regarding Free Trade Agreements (FTA).
Australia supports labour provisions that protect core labour standards, and considers the inclusion of labour provisions in FTAs on a case-by-case basis.
Australia endorses the Special Rapporteur on Education’s emphasis on improving quality.
It is estimated that approximately 200 million children globally cannot read or write when they leave primary school, underscoring the need to focus on the quality of teaching and learning.
And we are committed to finding solutions so that children everywhere can attend school for a longer and better education.
Indeed, education is the flagship sector of the Australian aid program.
By 2016 we plan to increase the proportion of Australia’s aid budget spent on education to 25 per cent. With this support, we expect to help 4 million more children attend school and improve the quality of education for a further 20 million children.
Once again, we thank the Special Rapporteurs for their timely and substantive reports.