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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 3455 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Today I would be happy to celebrate the young Turkish woman, Gonul Aslan, a 19-year-old, who was forced to marry a man in a family arrangement. She left her husband and went to live with another man. When this did not work out she returned to her parents' house. Her father, brother and husband decided that the shame she had brought to the family needed to be cleansed. She was choked and when believed dead thrown over a bridge into the river below. She was not dead and swam to safety and went to the police. She is currently in hiding awaiting the trial of her family members.

I also celebrate two Aboriginal women working in Community Aid Abroad with indigenous communities, particularly women and children, providing them with access to information to promote their rights and self-determination. They do this with an optimism that is admirable. I celebrate the Canberra support worker who cares for men severely damaged through alcohol abuse. She does this with constant dignity for the person and continues to see the value of human life.

I celebrate the Canberra woman who has two disabled children and who has cared for these children for 20 years with minimum respite. Now that her daughter has finished her schooling and is not considered suitable for a work placement, she will now be forced to care for her disabled children 24 hours a day. I do this because the power of the stories of these individuals is underestimated. It is the work that seems to be unrecognised that has made a real difference.

The fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights is a time for reflection and evaluation. If as a community here in the ACT we become aware of the stories of our own people, Aboriginal people, refugees, people with disabilities and the poor in our community, among others, we will be far better equipped to address human rights issues, both here and across the globe. It takes me back to a common phrase of the conservation movement that can be used in striving for a better human rights record. Think globally, act locally.

MR WOOD (12.22): Mr Speaker, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights rose out of the barbarity and the gross atrocities of the Second World War. "Stop this inhumanity", said the people. The nations then comprising the UN did take steps to try to make a better future. Those nations then were principled. They were perhaps also self-righteous and self-congratulatory, but they did adopt noble aims, even if they overlooked some of their own sins. They did set the standard. They promoted respect for individual rights and freedoms, and that is at the heart of the declaration - a recognition of human dignity. What an important statement - to recognise human dignity. Perhaps we take that for granted, but we should not. The Human Rights Declaration is one of the most significant, one of the most meaningful, statements of all time, and it was remarkable that it was made by almost all of the then members of the United Nations. Sadly, there has been too little attention paid to it.

I think it is worth reading just a couple of paragraphs from the declaration and the beginning of the preamble. I quote:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world ...

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