Right Now’s July 2014 Issue, Human Rights and Health

By Right Now


Monique Hurley, Doctors beyond our borders – Is Australia turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Burma?

Bebe Loff, Medical Ethics and Human Rights: Respect for culture

Dario Mujkic, The Medicare Co-payment: The future of public health in Australia?

Nadia Wu, Does Australia need tougher cyberbullying legislation? 

Will Mooney, Watershed? Indigenous Rights and the Water Bill Exposure Draft

Hector Sharp, The Trans-Pacific Partnership will cut accessibility to medicine for those that need it most

Sam Ryan, Thankyou for disengaging

Marta Skrabcz, Policing The Body: Women’s health and reproductive rights

Alexandra L. Phelan, The Sins of the Other or Silence of the Self? – Ebola in West Africa



Silencing Soft Targets – An interview with Vicki Wilkinson

Pia White, The health of human rights on full display: July media review

Right Now’s July 2014 content is dedicated to the theme of health. Recently, there have been no shortage of issues related to this theme in the media, from the Australians involved in the recent Thai surrogacy scandal, to the resurgence of the debate on euthanasia and assisted death.  Until recently, universal healthcare was a certainty in Australia. Yet the $7 Medicare surcharge proposed for those seeking to see a doctor in the last Federal Budget has caused some concern that the right to universal healthcare is at risk. Recent debates over the introduction of Zoe’s Law in the NSW Parliament could conflict with women’s right to have an abortion. Mental health problems affect one in five Australians, yet many who suffer mental health problems will no longer be eligible for the disability support pension. Is Australia backsliding on human rights related to health?

As some of our authors this month demonstrated, health and human rights are not just something that we influence in Australia. Offshore, our actions also impact health outcomes. For example, in speaking out about access to healthcare in Burma, and our response to the global Ebola outbreak. In the aid sector, new health challenges face a smaller development budget. There is increasing obesity in developing countries, at the same time communicable diseases are developing insidiously, for example, the prevalence of drug resistant tuberculosis in our close neighbour Papua New Guinea. These issues show the increasingly difficult decisions that must be made about how to prioritise health in the development sector.

What for the future of human rights and health in Australia? With an ageing population, the healthcare of the elderly and related diseases such as dementia will have growing prominence. People seeking cheap healthcare overseas (including for surrogacy) and how this will could impact on their rights and the rights of those that provide it to them will continue to be an issue. And how we provide healthcare in the form of aid to developing countries and which areas we focus on will continue to have significance.

The increase in public focus on health of late provides an excellent opportunity to consider this with a human rights-based lens. We hope you enjoy the wealth of articles we have on offer this July related to the topic.


Review – Renewal: Five Paths to a Fairer Australia

By Georgia Cerni

Sophie Cousins’ book Renewal: Five Paths to a Fairer Australia is, in many respects, a proposal. For Cousins, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided Australians with an opportunity to reconsider the ways our society currently functions. Cousins aptly makes her case – while in some ways the pandemic reinforced burgeoning inequalities, it also presented us the chance to apply collectivist values to solve systemic problems.