The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has farewelled Karen Toohey, after two years as Acting Commissioner. Karen first joined the Commission as its inaugural Chief Executive Officer in 2010.
Karen led the Commission’s work on a broad range of significant projects and reports, including such as the relinquishment of children with a disability into state care, discrimination in the private rental market, reporting racism, and gender and sexual diversity on the sporting field. Karen also oversaw the introduction and implementation of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic), and, importantly, has ensured that the Commission has effectively utilised its new functions and powers since the Act came into force in 2011. The Commission has redeveloped its website, and made its services more accessible, including streamlining the complaint process and handling more inquiries and complaints from the public than ever before.
Karen was farewelled by the Victorian human rights community in a function held at the Commission’s offices in Carlton in July. Staff, government representatives and community leaders alike spoke of her capacity for innovation and strategic thinking to achieve practical outcomes and positive change. Her leadership, drive and appetite for tackling challenging and significant human rights issues will certainly be missed.
A permanent appointment is expected to be made shortly. Chris Humphreys, a senior public servant from the Department of Justice with significant expertise in equal opportunity and human rights, will be filling the role in the meantime.