Human Lives Human Rights: The incoming human rights commissioner, Lorraine Finlay said that an increase in the vaccination rates reduces the need for jab directives, and “broad-based, blanket” public health orders raise “human rights issues”.
In an interview with Guardian Australia Lorraine Finlay made the comments to defending governments’ ability to require vaccinations in the interests of public health but arguing Australia should prepare for a “future emergency” by ensuring human rights are “at the core” of its response.
Finlay said that “vaccine mandates do engage human rights issues” but Australians must also think about their “responsibilities and the way your choices affect the rights and choices of others”, including public health.
Vaccinations are “an important public health measure” she said adding that she would like to see “as many people as possible choosing to be vaccinated”.
“Where governments do introduce vaccine mandates, and they are able to limit rights to protect public health … it’s really important they are justified, non-discriminatory and proportionate.”
Finlay said health orders must be “tailored to risk rather than broad-based, blanket approaches”.
“As vaccination rates go up the need for directives changes as the proportionality calculations change.”
Vaccine mandates are “not entirely new”, Finlay said citing the “no jab, no play” provisions requiring vaccination for childcare and for flu jabs to visit residents of aged care.
Arguing pandemic response has caused a “significant restriction of individual freedoms,” Finlay said these measures were designed “quickly” to respond to a public health emergency.
“I understand that has to be the priority but now that we’re starting along the road of post-pandemic recovery it’s really important to reflect on the measures we’ve introduced and learn the lessons we need to learn and to set up a framework for any future emergency … that put rights at the core.
“Even in an emergency, human rights matter.”
Border closures separating families and people who lost businesses due to the economic impact, are the examples of the “direct and tangible” impact of the pandemic on rights, Finlay said.
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