Archive for category Human Rights
Why dont men get it?
The Age newspaper 14 June 2013
I was appalled and saddened to learn that a number of members of the Australian Army – of varying ranks and who had been there for many years – had allegedly produced and distributed explicit emails and photos that demean and denigrate women.
I was appalled because no woman should ever have to endure behaviour that is degrading. The behaviour is alleged to have been perpetrated by men who are trained to lead, represent and honour their country. It is behaviour that is inexcusable and intolerable.
But I was saddened, too, because I know that the army has, over the past 12 months, made significant efforts to make its service a more inclusive and respectful workplace. Obviously there are some men in the army that still don’t get it.
They still don’t get that there is no place for behaviours that are offensive and are disrespectful to women. They still don’t get that a modern military needs both men and women to achieve its goals and maintain capability. They still don’t get that sexist and offensive behaviour will not be tolerated by their own senior leaders and by the broader Australian community.
Over the past 18 months I have been immersed in defence culture as part of the review I lead into the treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force. I have heard the voices of thousands of serving men and women, many of whom spoke of positive experiences. Others told of experiences that were deeply distressing.
Women I spoke to disclosed stories of extreme exclusion, sexual harassment, victimisation and sexual assault. For these women, service had come at an unacceptable personal sacrifice. Courageously, some of these women came with me to tell their stories to their service chiefs. From that time on, the chiefs – moved and angered by what they heard – committed to stamping out abuse and harassment in their service. The evidence of this was in the way the chiefs, as well as the Chief of the Defence Force, swiftly and unequivocally accepted the recommendations from my review. These recommendations are about creating a culture that allows both men and women to thrive, a culture where sexual and offensive misconduct has no place, and a culture worthy of a first-class military organisation.
The latest allegations the in army are a significant setback to reform.
Marlon Noble must be given chance to clear his name
Australian Human Rights Commission 9 January 2012
Marlon Noble’s release after 10 years behind bars without a trial has been welcomed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes.
But both Commissioners have called for the criminal justice system and the mental health system to be more flexible in the way it deals with people with disabilities and have also called for the removal of onerous conditions placed on Mr Noble’s release.
Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said even though Mr Noble was never convicted, the conditions attached to his release treat him like a convicted criminal.
“Mr Noble needs to be given an opportunity to clear his name and he needs to be able to return to the life he was robbed of 10 years ago,” Commissioner Gooda said.
“The conditions attached to his release read like a lifetime punishment but it is for someone who was never been found guilty of anything.
“For example, he is not allowed to stay anywhere other his own place without the permission of the West Australian Mentally Impaired Accused Review Board, something which will prevent him from travelling to visit the grave of his mother who was murdered while he was in jail unless he has the Board’s permission,” Mr Gooda said.
Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes said the law needs to be reformed so that what happened to Mr Noble never happens to anyone ever again.
“Marlon Noble lost a decade of his life due to Western Australia’s laws on the treatment of people with cognitive disabilities facing criminal charges,” Commissioner Innes said.
“He would have been released from prison years ago if he had been tried and found guilty of the sexual assault offences but he was never tried and therefore never found guilty, and yet he still remained in prison.”
“We can never give Marlon Noble back the years wasted in prison but we must give him the chance to clear his name and change the laws and the system to make sure people with disabilities are not locked away in prison for lengthy periods for crimes for which they have never been convicted,” Commissioner Gooda said.
BBC Mobile News Europe 21 January 2011
By Chris Morris BBC News
Brandon’s mother says he is restrained like a “caged animal”
The Netherlands has been plunged into a debate about how to deal with violent psychiatric patients, after images of a tethered teenager appeared on Dutch TV.
The pictures were taken after a tip-off from a whistle-blower, who worked at the institution where the 18-year-old, known only as Brandon, is confined.
The pictures show him wearing a harness attached to a metal bracket on the wall by a thick leather strap.
He has been confined in this way every single day for three years.
His mother has been quoted saying he lives like “a caged animal”.
Brandon, who suffers from severe learning difficulties, has been confined to institutions since the age of five.
He used to be allowed home at weekends but staff became increasingly afraid of his moods as he grew older and, since 2007, with the permission of a judge, he has been tethered daily.
Mental health experts in the Netherlands say this is not an isolated case, and there may be as many as 40 patients held in similar circumstances.
But a number of Dutch politicians reacted with shock when the pictures of Brandon were shown on television and there was an emergency debate in parliament.
The deputy health minister, who visited the institution where Brandon is confined, described the images as truly harrowing.
She defended the practice of continuous restraint, saying sometimes you need to protect people from themselves, but also promised an urgent review, to see if any other methods could be used.
The Guardian 27 October 2010
Health regulator says blanket measures introduced in the name of patient security may infringe human rights law
The Care Quality Commission said the proportion of people in low secure beds has increased significantly since 2006. More than a quarter of psychiatric patients are now in held in low secure units (LSUs). Three years ago, the figure was less than a fifth.
Such changes in the pattern of care have rung alarm bells at the commission. It says patients were being subjected to a regime of close observation behind high fences and “airlocks”, where patients sometimes faced “unsafe or abusive practices”.
The regulator cited cases where the mentally ill were limited to “two to six sheets” of toilet paper and where nurses were unable to administer care because they were busy guarding patients.
One example saw a male nurse assigned “to preserve the dignity” of a highly disturbed female patient who was constantly attempting to remove her clothing. Other female patients in a different unit also complained that male nurses were involved “during night-time observation, bathing and toileting”.
The commission said these were “serious concerns for the dignity and safety of vulnerable [people]“. “Examples of poor practice being followed in the name of patient security included blanket measures that risked infringing human rights law, and disregard for privacy and dignity that was verging on unsafe or abusive practice,” said the report.
There had also been an alarming trend of security measures that banned mobile phones or forbade patients from preparing their own meals. The commission said, in some circumstances, this could “amount to an unwarranted infringement of patients’ ECHR article eight rights to a family and private life”.
The commission recommends reviewing the national policy of standards in such units. Matt Kinton, the report’s author, said there was a “real worry that the more mental health wards look like prisons, the less they function as hospitals where people will get better and be able to live independently”.
Kinton said one of the driving forces of this trend towards security was that the private sector had built many new low-security wards. “It is the old adage that if you build a hospital, patients will fit it.”
The regulator also noted that there was a sharp rise in the doctors prescribing compulsory treatments for mental health problems. On average, 367 community treatment orders (CTOs) have been made each month. This is at least ten times the number anticipated when the legislation was introduced in 2008.
Patients detained in hospital can be discharged under CTOs and supervised by a doctor who stipulates a strict prescription of medicines and can sometimes restrict patients movements. If a patient refuses, they can be returned to hospital.