On 23 August 2022, WWDA CEO Carolyn Frohmader sent a letter to the SPT Subcommittee Members ahead of their upcoming visit to Australia. The letter outlines our concerns that the Australian Government’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) excludes places and settings that impact people with disability. The letter also outlines our concerns that the Australian State and Territory governments are limiting the intended scope of the implementation of OPCAT in Australia.
“It is now well established in international law that social care, disability, health, and mental health settings are places where torture and ill-treatment can and do occur. The national consultation undertaken in Australia by the AHRC, clearly articulated in its final report ‘Implementing OPCAT in Australia’ (2020) [PDF], that it is critical that the implementation of OPCAT in Australia must include disability specific settings (such as group homes and other forms of segregated and closed settings), along with mainstream settings (where people with disability are deprived of their liberty) and also residential aged care settings – recognising that these are settings where people with disability are not only deprived of their liberty, but are also subject to, and at significant risk of, violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.”
In 2020, The OPCAT Network of which WWDA is a signatory member released the final report ‘Implementing OPCAT in Australia’ (2020) [PDF]. This report was not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of the issues faced by people in detention and people deprived of their liberty in Australia. But it does focus on key issues to do with Australia’s implementation of its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) which Australia ratified in December 2017. It makes recommendations, not necessarily to propose solutions to problems but, rather, to suggest lines of inquiry for the SPT and The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD).