Human Rights Law & Institutions
There is strong evidence that the legal recognition and protection of human rights is an important factor contributing to the realisation of human rights on the ground. Despite this, Australia is the only modern developed democracy not to enshrine human rights in a national law.
The Human Rights Law Centre works to strengthen the legal protection of human rights at the national, state and territory levels by contributing to policy development and running significant human rights cases in the courts.
The Victorian Government must address the underlying causes of damaging incidents in youth justice centres including staffing and lockdowns, the Human Rights Law Centre has said in a submission to a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry
“We are seeing a clear and worrying wave of state-based laws that restrict the ability of Australians to stand together and speak out on issues that they care deeply about. The government may disagree with protesters' views on a particular issue, but shutting down peaceful assemblies only serves to weaken our democracy,” said HRLC's Emily Howie.
“All the data shows that these laws are being overwhelmingly used against Aboriginal people. Twenty-six years ago the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody made clear that locking someone up should only ever be a last resort and that police should be required to consider safer options,” said HRLC's Adrianne Walters.
“The push to weaken the laws by some has run aground. It’s hard to imagine what those pushing for change want people to be able to say that they currently can’t. Any move to weaken the law itself would have sent a green light to racism,” said the Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Adrianne Walters.
In a recent Victorian decision, a mother and daughter, Betty and Maria Matsoukatidou, won an important Supreme Court Human Rights Charter case on the fair hearing and equality obligations owed by courts to self-represented litigants, and in particular those with learning disabilities.
The Human Rights Law Centre welcomes Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis' announcement today that Australia would ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other mistreatment (OPCAT) by the end of the year.
In October 2016, Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk announced at state conference her cabinet’s commitment to introduce a Human Rights Act in Queensland. If passed, Queensland will become the third Australian jurisdiction to protect and promote human rights in law. The announcement comes of the back of a community campaign for human rights protection in Queensland.
The secrecy provisions of the 2015 Border Force Act have compromised Australians’ basic democratic rights and damaged Australia’s international standing, the Human Rights Law Centre told the United Nations overnight in a statement to the Human Rights Council.
The Victorian Government today announced support in full or in part for 45 of the 52 recommendations made through the independent Human Rights Charter Review.
Yesterday Queensland’s Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee released a report recommending that Queensland introduce a Human Rights Act.
Today the Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis announced the appointment of Mr Edward Santow as Human Rights Commissioner, the Hon Dr Kay Patterson as Age Discrimination Commissioner and Mr Alastair McEwin as Disability Discrimination Commissioner.
A Human Rights Act would be a force for good in protecting the rights of all Queenslanders and would deliver significant benefits, the Human Rights Law Centre has told the Queensland Parliament’s Human Rights Inquiry.
As governments can bestow rights, equally they can take them away. We must not be complacent, writes the HRLC's Emily Howie.
The Australian Government’s response overnight at the UN in Geneva to a major review of its human rights record has failed to address the serious concerns raised by the international community.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, yesterday met with Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, at the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur and expressed concern over the detention conditions in Australia’s offshore processing centres and encouraged the Prime Minister to reconsider Operation Sovereign Borders.
Australia’s human rights performance will face intense scrutiny next week as the Government appears before the Human Rights Council in Geneva for its major four yearly human rights review. At the "Universal Periodic Review" (UPR) other countries will have the opportunity to question Australia about its human rights record and make a series of recommendations for improvement.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has issued an urgent call to the governments of Australia and Nauru to find a decent solution for 'Abyan' - a refugee being held on Nauru who is 15 weeks pregnant after reportedly being raped on Nauru in July. The UN has spoken directly with Abyan.
As the UN celebrates it's 70th birthday, the HRLC's Anna Brown looks at Australia’s involvement in the success and also the need to confront the current weakness of our leadership on human rights.
Join us for a panel discussion in Melbourne about Australia's foreign policy ambitions and failures with Tim Costello, Andrew Hudson and Emily Howie.
Australia’s treatment of prisoners falls short of new international standards adopted by the United Nations General Assembly last week.
In the lead up to Australia’s review by the UN Human Rights Council, the HRLC and other NGOs along with the Australian Human Rights Commission visited Geneva to brief UN member states on the human rights situation in Australia and key issues that should be considered as part of the review.
Australia has been accused of seeking to weaken criticism of Cambodia’s appalling human rights record during negotiations on an important resolution at the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.
People should be free to meet with United Nations investigators without fear of being sent to prison, writes the HRLC's Daniel Webb.
The HRLC has joined with Human Rights Watch to produce a report detailing how Australia can “lift its game” on human rights at home and abroad in order to strengthen its bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights would be made more effective, practical and accessible through a range of recommendations made in a report following a review of the Charter’s first eight years of operation.
The Human Rights Law Centre is proud to support the push for a Human Rights Act in Queensland.
A group of leading community and legal organisations has today urged the Victorian Government to change Victoria’s Human Rights Charter to ensure it is more accessible, more effective and simpler to use.
Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Monash University, Sangeetha Pillai, examines the problems with the three significant expansions to the current grounds for citizenship loss contained in new laws proposed by the Government.
The Human Rights Law Centre has urged changes to make Victoria’s Human Rights Charter more accessible, more effective and simpler to enforce in its submission to the eight year review of the Charter.
The Victorian Attorney-General recently announced the 8-year review of the Victorian Charter. The review is a significant opportunity to strengthen the legal protection and practical realisation of human rights in Victoria. This page provides information and resources about the review, making a submission, and the HRLC's key recommendations for reform.