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Extracts from Bush Talks

By Graham Young - posted Thursday, 15 April 1999


Starting in 1998 the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has undertaken a series of meetings in rural and provincial Australia. The series is ongoing. In his Introduction, Human Rights Commissioner Chris Sidoti says:

"In almost every aspect of our work, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has noticed that people in rural and remote Australia generally come off second best. Distance, isolation, lower incomes and minority status all exacerbate the experience of discrimination, harassment, and lack of services and participation.

In Bush Talks we have focused on rural and remote areas, inviting country people to raise all of their concerns related to human rights."

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The Bush Talks , a large file, can be downloaded from the Commission’s website at http://www.hreoc.gov.au/human_rights/rural_australians/bushtalks/index.html. These extracts have been reproduced to make access to the key proposals and initiatives and recommendations a little faster.

Introducing Bush Talks

In almost every aspect of our work, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has noticed that people in rural and remote Australia generally come off second best. Distance, isolation, lower incomes and minority status all exacerbate the experience of discrimination, harassment, and lack of services and participation.

In Bush Talks we have focused on rural and remote areas, inviting country people to raise all of their concerns related to human rights. The aims of Bush Talks have been

  1. to identify the major human rights issues confronting people living beyond the main population centres
  2. to inform rural and remote area Australians, and their representative organizations, about human rights
  3. to develop projects to enhance the enjoyment of human rights in regional, rural and remote Australia for HREOC action in 1999 and 2000.

Bush Talks has visited every State and the Northern Territory and has also held consultations in some capital cities. We have conducted public and private, general and specific issue meetings. By the end of 1998 we had travelled to 26 communities in country Australia and many more will be reached in 1999 when Bush Talks visits to north-west NSW, central Queensland, Top End NT and the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of WA are planned.

Our most successful meetings have been those organised for us by local hosts, to all of whom we extend our sincere gratitude. Local governments, in particular, have been important sponsors of Bush Talks.

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In addition to meetings, to date we have received 94 telephone comments or enquiries and 53 written submissions from across the country.

This paper summarises the major issues raised with us in the first half of this consultation program. For more detail, readers will find notes of public Bush Talks meetings on the Commission’s website.

The Commission’s first responses to what we have heard – projects to begin in 1999 - are outlined at the conclusion of each section.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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