Right to a Healthy Environment

RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT DISCUSSION PAPER PUBLIC CONSULTATION TO INFORM CONSIDERATION OF THE INTRODUCTION OF A RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 2004

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

 In the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement for the 10th Assembly, the ACT Government committed to considering the inclusion of a ‘right to a healthy environment’ in the Human Rights Act 2004. Following from this a discussion paper has been released for community comment. This discussion paper seeks community views on how the right to a healthy environment could be included in the Human Rights Act and what the content of the right could be.

SCOPE FROM THE YOUR SAY CONVERSATIONS PAGE 

In particular, the community is being asked to provide feedback on the following:

  • How could we define the right to a healthy environment?
  • What duties could be included for the Government and private entities to ensure respect for individuals’ right to healthy environment?
  • What additional measures could be considered to ensure protection of the right to healthy environment for vulnerable groups?
  • How could the right to a healthy environment recognise the importance of ‘country’ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?
  • How could the Government go about fulfilling the right to a healthy environment?

WHAT WESTON CREEK COMMUNITY COUNCIL HAS HEARD SO FAR 

  • The community of Weston Creek value the Territory as a bush capital, their unique village atmosphere, garden landscapes, and healthy lifestyles
  • Weston Creek Community Council (WCCC) acknowledges the importance for Government in providing a carefully and well-managed approach to the management of our environment of land, water, soil, and plants
  • Considerations are vitally important to maintain balance for the needs of today and future generations.
  • Climate mitigation, tree canopy coverage and community preparedness for climate change impacts are repeated topics of conversation in Weston Creek
  • There are great concerns regarding air quality in the area
  • Cooleman Court and park precinct are identified heat island areas and residents have a right to a liveable and safe environment with the protection of green open spaces such as Coolo Park

POINTS TO CONSIDER FROM THE DISCUSSION PAPER, WHAT DO YOU THINK? 

  • If introduced into the Human Rights Act, a right to a healthy environment would give rise to certain general obligations that would require immediate action by the Government.
  • In addition, there would be an obligation on the Government to take further positive measures to improve the enjoyment of the right via appropriate means and within available resources.
  • It would also require the Government not to take backwards steps that would reduce protection of the right.
  • In the context of the climate emergency, environment-related human rights are gaining prominence as a means of ensuring accountability of governments and companies for protecting the environment and preventing further degradation that would impact on human health and wellbeing.
  • The natural environment and ecosystems sustain humans and all other living creatures, which rely on the environment for food, clean air, and water as well as raw materials and medicines.
  • The environment and ecosystems also deliver essential services (such as pollination, soil fertility, pest control and erosion control) which may be irreplaceable if lost.
  • The environment is a major underlying determinant of health and how we live. 

CONSULTATION and TIMELINE 

Information about the ACT Right to a Healthy Environment Discussion Paper can be found at https://yoursayconversations.act.gov.au/right-healthy-environment

 The ACT Government will report back to the Legislative Assembly on the community feedback and its next steps on the inclusion of a right to a healthy environment in the Human Rights Act 2004 during the last sitting week in 2022.

Weston Creek Community Council wants to hear your views on what is important to you.

If you would like to add any comments for the WCCC submission, please let us know via the WCCC website, Facebook pages or email info@westoncreek.org.au by COB Friday 19 August 2022.

Alternatively, through to 31 August 2022, you can personally provide your thoughts and ideas for the ACT Right to a Healthy Environment Discussion Paper through the following options on the ACT Government Your Say Conversations, open projects:

  • Make a submission by 1 August 2022
  • Complete and online survey by 31 August 2022
  • If you have any further questions, email the Project Team at civilconsultation@act.gov.au
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