Housing as a Human Right Project 2005

The Housing as a Human Right project was auspiced by ACT Shelter and co-sponsored by ACTCOSS, ACT Welfare Rights and Legal Centre, ACT Youth Coalition, Tenants’ Union and Unions ACT.

In 2004 the ACT Government became the first jurisdiction in Australia to legislate a Human Rights Act. However, it lacked an important part of the United Nations Human Rights Convention on Human Rights, that was, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, (detailed below):

“The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.”

A review of the ACT Human Rights Act was initiated by the ACT Government in 2005 and it was in response to this anticipated review that ACT Shelter commenced the Housing as a Human Rights project.  Its aim was to:

“…. not only to support the educative work of the (ACT) Human Rights Commissioner but to raise awareness about our shared responsibility under international law to better provide adequate housing for those in the Canberra currently disadvantaged in this regard”.

The Project consisted of recorded interviews and consultations with low income housing consumers and resulted in the widespread distribution of the cards and poster both nationally and internationally.

Unfortunately the ACT Government did not agree to widen the powers of the Human Rights Act in its comprehensive review in 2005/6 due to a variety of legal and costs reasons.  However, ACT Shelter will continue as part of its work to pursue the ACT Government to legally recognise the communities’ human right to adequate housing.