On 2-3 July 2018, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women reviewed Australia’s record on women’s rights.


As well as a report by the Australian Government, the CEDAW Committee was informed by civil society organisations, including AWAVA through our Shadow Report on violence against women.


Other Australian NGOs and groups also submitted shadow reports, including:
• an Australian NGO coalition, coordinated by Kingsford Legal Centre
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance (NATSIWA)
Women with Disability Australia
Equality Rights Alliance
Project Respect
Prosecute; don’t perpetrate, and
Queer Sisterhood Project
(You can access the full list of NGO submissions here.)


In Geneva, the Committee met with Australian civil society organisations and human rights institutions – the meeting is summarised here.


Civil society representatives Hannah McGlade, Maria Nawaz, Lavanya Kala, Lee Carnie and Ruth Saovana Spriggs spoke about key concerns:

• child removal, incarceration and violence affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women,

• human rights protections, structural disadvantage of women and reproductive rights,

• violence against women generally,

• the intersectional and diverse needs of women and girls; and

• Australia’s extra-territorial obligations in Papua New Guinea.


On the following day, the Committee raised several issues with Australian Government representatives (watch the dialogue here and here), focusing on:
• mechanisms to implement women’s human rights,
• health including forced sterilisation and access to abortion,
• violence against women with disability,
• domestic and family violence,
• family law,
• parental leave and the gender super gap,
• income support, and
• homelessness.


The UN experts also backed up AWAVA’s concerns about specialist women’s services being undermined, noting that “gender-neutral” services are less likely to be approached by those in need, and less likely to provide the required sense of safety and security. Susan Hutchinson has written about the dialogue as it focused on violence against women – ‘UN grills Australia on multiple failures to protect women against violence’.


You can read a summary of the review as a whole by Susan Hutchinson and Hannah Gissane here and another wrap-up here.


CEDAW’s concluding observations on Australia will be published online on 23 July 2018.