Human rights promote human happiness and wellbeing because they protect people's vital needs and fundamental interests.
The protection of these basic rights further enables people to pursue those things they find enjoyable and worthwhile. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care" (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25).
Violations of human rights cause serious harm to individuals. They also undermine the community’s expectations that they can count on having their own human rights respected.
- Discrimination has a detrimental impact on the psychological health and wellbeing of individuals, with far-reaching health, social and economic consequences for communities.
- Individuals who have experienced discrimination are more likely to suffer poor physical and psychological health.
- Laws are just the starting point for the protection of human rights. Education about rights and strengthening of services that enable the most vulnerable to access their rights are also required.
How the APS is involved
The APS has raised concerns about human rights, including those of clients receiving psychological services, and of marginalised groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, asylum seekers and refugees, and LGBTIQ+ individuals and groups. We highlight the established links between human rights, material circumstances and psychological health.
The APS supports psychologists to promote equity and the protection of people’s human, legal, and moral rights. This is guided by:
- The APS Code of Ethics which reflects psychologists’ commitment to respect the rights and dignity of people and peoples, propriety, and integrity. The Code is complemented by sets of ethical guidelines, including guidelines on the provision of psychological services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, children and older adults, amongst others.
- The universal declaration of ethical principles for psychologists (2008), which explicitly recognises that psychology as a science and a profession functions within the context of human society. As such, psychology has responsibilities to society that include using psychological knowledge to improve the condition of individuals, families, groups, communities and society.
- The Australian Human Rights Commission which is an independent statutory organisation leading the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia.