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Motion: Discrimination based on Work and Descent

Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (15:45): I, and also on behalf of Senator Moore, move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

   (i) over 260 million people across the globe, including around 210 million Dalits in South Asia, face Discrimination based on Work and Descent including caste and untouchability (DWD),

   (ii) as well as South Asia, significant communities also live in Japan (Burakumin), Africa, Latin America (Quilombo) and Europe (Romani),

   (iii) these communities, considered as 'lower' in status or 'impure', are isolated physically, socially and politically from other communities and are structurally excluded, discriminated against and are victims of violence,

   (iv) Dalit women face particularly severe forms of violence including sexual harassment, rape and murder,

   (v) Dalit children and young people face discrimination in education and employment and opportunities,

   (vi) the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates bonded labour victims in South Asia includes Dalits and is particularly widespread in the mining, agriculture and garment production industries, and

   (vii) even though some of these countries have constitutional provisions, they lack strong legal and legislative measures to address these concerns of exclusion and violence Dalit, and particularly Dalit Women, face;

(b) acknowledges:

   (i) the draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent, by the UN Human Rights Council, and General Recommendation XXIX of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, addressing DWD, and

   (ii) that the Sustainable Development Goals agenda recognises the need to reduce inequalities based on or aggravated by DWD as a crucial and measurable goal; and

(c) calls on the Australian Government to:

   (i) develop and apply sensitive approaches in times of humanitarian crisis and ensure that humanitarian aid is delivered to all marginalised groups, including people suffering from DWD,

   (ii) encourage Australian business partners to promote more inclusive recruitment and management practices in countries where caste discrimination is prevalent,

   (iii) strengthen the policy and human rights dialogues and promote joint initiatives to eliminate DWD with the governments of states, such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and

   (iv) through Australia's international development program, provide support for projects combating DWD as a serious human rights violation that exacerbates poverty.


Senator McGRATH (Queensland—Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister) (15:45): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator McGRATH: The government is providing a number of initiatives in South Asia to combat discrimination based on work and descent, including caste and untouchability. Through our development program, we work with NGOs in India to tackle discrimination of scheduled castes and tribes. We are assisting in the development of traditional local governance structures to help communities build linkages with government to access funds and entitlements, with 4,773 beneficiaries. In Bangladesh, DFAT-funded activities have supported work with NGOs to develop livelihood opportunities for marginalised communities. We advocate on behalf of minority communities in Pakistan and work to ensure that marginalised groups have equal access to humanitarian assistance in Pakistan.

Question agreed to.


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