Strengthening Australia’s Commitment to CEDAW
Australia is a signatory to the major human rights treaty for women, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
In December 2008 Australia strengthened its commitment to addressing discrimination against women by acceding to the CEDAW Optional Protocol.
The Optional Protocol allows individuals to bring a complaint directly to the UN CEDAW Committee, after all domestic remedies have been exhausted. The Optional Protocol also allows the CEDAW Committee to investigate claims of serious violations of CEDAW in Australia.
Accession to the Optional Protocol makes a powerful statement that discrimination against women – in Australia and internationally – is unacceptable.
Implementing and Monitoring CEDAW
The Office for Women ensures that Australia fulfils our obligations under CEDAW by working with agencies across Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, and reporting every four years to the United Nations on our progress.
Australia lodged its most recent report: Australia’s combined sixth and seventh report on the implementation of CEDAW, on 16 December 2008. In developing this report, the Office for Women held community consultations in every capital city and met with more than 100 state, territory and national non-government organisations.
Four roundtable discussions with women with disabilities, women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, women from rural and regional areas, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were also held to gain greater insight into the views and concerns held by these groups.
Australia's Appearance before the CEDAW Committee
Australia appeared before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on 20 July 2010. Ms Helen Hambling led the Australian delegation and delivered the Opening Statement PDF [85kB].
Following Australia's appearance, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women issued a number of recommendations outlining how Australia could better meet its obligations under CEDAW.
These recommendations often referred to as 'Concluding Observations' are available from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights website PDF [80kB].
The Committee identified the two most pressing issues facing Australia in the field of gender equality as violence against women and the disadvantages faced by Indigenous women. The Committee requested that a follow-up report, referred to as the ‘Interim Report’, outlining government efforts to implement their recommendations be submitted. The Office for Women coordinated the development of the Interim Report and Australia submitted its Interim Report to the CEDAW Committee in November 2012. The Interim Report is a whole of government report, containing input from Commonwealth, state and territory portfolios responsible for Australia’s policies on violence against women and Indigenous women’s human rights.
The Interim Report is available and can be downloaded from the UN website at: www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/followup.htm.
The Non-Government Organisations’ (NGO’s) Follow-up Report, coordinated by the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance (NATSIWA), and the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) Independent Interim Report on CEDAW are also available from the UN Website at: www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/followup.htm
Women’s Human Rights Education Kit
The Education Kit is designed to complement Australia’s Combined Sixth and Seventh Report on the Implementation of CEDAW, 2008. It provides a simple guide to human rights and serves as an invaluable source of information about CEDAW and the Optional Protocol.