On the 10th December, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the time, the world was recovering and rebuilding in many parts of the world resulting from WWII and the Cold War was in its early days. The UN itself was in its early years, but this Declaration was the first time that countries agreed together on a comprehensive statement of inalienable human rights.
One of the chief architects of the drafting was an Australian, Dr. Herbert Vere Evatt, a former High Court justice. Dr. Evatt would later become the President of the UN General Assembly and, under his Presidency, the Declaration was adopted.
Every year, World Human Rights Day is observed on the 10th December to commemorate the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted 30 Articles which set out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.
The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948 and we need to stand up and take action in our own daily lives to protect our rights and those of others.
As an organisation, Compass is closely aligned with the principles of the Declaration and in particular Article 25: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services…”
As part of the 70 year celebrations, some of the Compass team have shared their views on particular Articles of the Declaration and how they, as individuals, can stand up for rights and where they would like to see change.
Leading Statement by Compass GMD Greg Budworth:
As people strive for fulfilment of their individual needs and wants, which are aggregated to some degree in the needs and wants of nations, and which often differ in their respective political, economic and social systems, and often manifest in disproportionate advantages for some and disproportionate exploitation for other within and between nations, human rights provides a basic set of standard conditions to be provided and protected by governments for all people. To be involved in provision of services to those more likely to be systemically exploited, to be poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged, requires continuous political advocacy and community influence to maintain that basic set of rights against all forces that would seek to dilute, alienate or ignore them.
Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
- I would like to see change in people acting towards others in a spirit of brotherhood, instead of allowing bias or prejudice to distract from that equality. To do my part, I will not assume the negative first. I will not let fear or mistrust cloud my interactions with people, or look to them from any position other than equal footing. | Carrie B
- Everyone regardless of gender, nationality, age and ability should have rights to love their life with plenty to eat, shelter, medical attention, education and social inclusion. As one person in part of a greater society, I make a commitment to check in and include all neighbours, friends, work colleagues and relatives to establish a presence for them to know that I am there for them in their time of need or if / when they need help for social inclusion. | Danni M
- Regardless of race, age, social status, gender we all deserve the right to be treated equally. I will continue to work, speak, interact and empower my co-workers, our tenants and our community to act towards one another in a respectful and non-judgemental way. To stand up and speak out against any injustice against a person due an appeared inequality. | Mel H
Article 4: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
- More people in servitude today than any time in history. Only 1% are rescued. Let’s get serious about abolishing slavery forever | Therese G
Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
- Be courageous; make a noise about cruel or degrading treatment in your neighbourhood. Alert the authorities if it’s inappropriate to intervene directly | Theresa G
- Australia’s stance regarding asylum seekers has resulted in treatment of thousands of people, some of whom have languished in prison-like conditions for many years, that contravenes this Article. Community pressure, including petitions I have signed, has led us to remove many families with children from Nauru and bring them to Australia for treatment. This is a start, but it’s not good enough. We must stop politicising this and recognise the human faces, process them swiftly, and bring them here. | Kerry H
Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile
- Indigenous deaths in custody and indeed the mistreatment while in custody in Australia and abroad is unjust and horrific and we need to stand together and demand change. The instances of arbitrary arrest and detention of Indigenous people have not subsided and has led to injury and sadly too many deaths in custody. This continues to be a significant failure and disgrace to our national legal system. We need to demand this is a priority for government and all officers of the law to be educated and trained in making better judgements and to take an oath to improving individual and organisational performance in this area. #standup4humanrights. | Jandy M
Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
- I will always listen without judgement or interference. I will always endeavour to defend my rights and the rights of others in our freedom of expression. I will demonstrate respect and empathy. | Emma O
Article 25: (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
- I would like to see more education and awareness in the general community about the many causes of homelessness. I will advocate for people experiencing homelessness and do what is within my power to break down misconceptions and to open up conversations about it.| Michelle F
- Homelessness is a massive issue in the hunter and country as a whole. There is a severe lack of emergency accommodation here in the Hunter. I read a story about a gentleman in the UK who was converting buses into mobile sleep bays and mobile bathrooms to help provide people on the streets with a safe place to go for the night, I’d love to see something similar implemented here in Australia to at least provide the homeless with a safe bed and shelter for the night. | Vanessa K
- As a legal, commercial and procurement professional I may have access to large networks of individuals and organisations that have greater connections, capacity or skills to fundraise. I can engage with these networks to influence change and demand more attention and effort be given to tackle homelessness | Brenden M