Human Rights Are Something We All Share

In learning about human rights, we learn about ideas of respect, fairness, justice and equality. We learn about standing up for our own rights and about our responsibility to respect the rights of others.

There are a number of basic rights that people from around the world have agreed on, such as:

• the right to life
• freedom from torture
• other cruel and inhuman treatment
• rights to a fair trial
• free speech
• freedom of religion
• rights to health, education and an adequate standard of living.

These human rights are the same for all people everywhere – male and female, young and old, rich and poor, regardless of our background, where we live, what we think or what we believe. This is what makes human rights ‘universal'.

Rights also describe what is lawful: that is, some rights may be laid down in law. Australia has anti-discrimination laws that are about you being treated fairly in certain circumstances regardless of your age, gender, sexuality, ethnic background, disability, religion or some other central characteristic.

In many situations, though, rights exist but are not covered by law. These rights are often called moral rights and are based on people's sense of what is fair or just.

Respect for human rights helps build strong communities, based on equality and tolerance in which everyone has an opportunity to contribute. In this section you can find all you need to know about human rights, with links to help you explore specific issues in more detail. Just as importantly, you can also find out how to help promote human rights in your school and community.

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