The rights of inhalers, the diseased, sex workers and blood donors

Another SARC report, another analysis of the rights of the less popular (and blood donors.) Alert Digest No. 6 of 2008 raised the following human rights concerns:

  • Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances (Volatile Substances) (Repeal) Bill 2008: This bill removes the sunset clause from  a 2003 package of harm minimisation measure for kids who use inhalants, ranging from searches to confiscation of devices to detention until a willing carer arrives, all mediated by a requirement to act in the best interests of the child. SARC asked, not only whether these measures were reasonable limits on kids’ rights to movement, privacy, liberty and property, not to mention discrimination on the basis of age, but also whether adults were being discriminated against because the harm minimisation measures cut-off as soon as an inhalant user turns 18.
  • Public Health and Wellbeing Bill: This massive bill was accompanied by 25 small-type Hansard pages of statement of compatibility. SARC’s report analyses the bill according to its effect on:
    • individuals: are measures to tell people who may be diseased to submit to testing and treatment (at pain of criminal penalties); control their movement (using force); require people involved in needle-stick and other incidents with medical workers, police officer and prison guards to be tested for disease (again using force); test the dead for disease; and control mass movements during health emergencies reasonable limits on the bevy of rights these measures engage?
    • activities: SARC focussed on brothels. Should parliament have a specific provision against sex workers being ‘required’ to service clients that only covers narrow circumstances (like clients refusing to wear a condom?) Should sex workers be allowed to tell clients the results of their compulsory medical check-ups? Should DHS officers be allowed to enter brothels at any time they please to check whether the towels are clean or everyone’s wearing a condom?
    • information: Here, SARC forcussed on blood donation, where donors and the Red Cross get a statutory defence from liability so long as blood is tested and donors are asked some questions. Should all men be asked whether they’ve had male-to-male sex in the last twelve months, or is a different question more appropriate?
  • Public Wealth and Hellbeing Bills: Tax, appropriation, etc…

Don’t forget that SARC has advertised for public submissions on the Health bill. They close tomorrow.

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