National Human Rights Action Plan: Achieving SMART Action on Human Rights

On 21 April 2010, the Federal Government launched ‘Australia’s Human Rights Framework’, setting out a number of measures the Government intends to take to protect and promote human rights in Australia. The Framework includes a commitment to develop a new National Human Rights Action Plan which is intended to “outline future action for the promotion and protection of human rights”.

On 9 December 2011, the Attorney-General released an Exposure Draft of the NHRAP. This followed the development of a Baseline Study, which aimed to provide a comprehensive appraisal of the state of human rights inAustralia. The draft NHRAP contains 220 ‘actions’ to respond to the human rights issues identified in the study.

On 6 March 2012, the Human Rights Law Centre made a submission on the exposure draft of the NHRAP entitled Achieving SMART Action on Human Rights, which builds on two previous submissions made by the HRLC during the NHRAP process.

The first was Making Rights Real: A National Human Rights Action Plan for Australia, a major submissions made in response to the Background Paper which set out the Government’s proposed approach to developing the NHRAP.

The second was A Sound Baseline for Human Rights in Australia, which was prepared in response to the consultation draft of the Baseline Study released by the Attorney-General in July 2011.

Achieving SMART Action on Human Rights aims to provide specific and constructive comments on the exposure draft of the NHRAP without duplicating the extensive recommendations of previous submissions. The submission makes general comments on the draft:

  • The structure should be amended to include separate columns for goals, objectives, actions/activities, performance indicators, timeframes and responsible agencies.
  • Actions which do not protect and promote human rights should be strengthened or otherwise removed.
  • Actions should be redrafted to be specific and goal/objective oriented.
  • Timeframes should be identified for all actions and with greater specificity.
  • Measurable indicators should be developed for each action as a priority.
  • Relevant agencies involved in the delivery of actions should be identified, including non-government actors where appropriate.
  • Cross-references should be added to account for intersectionality.
  • All accepted UPR recommendations should be addressed.
  • Actions should be included to promote/direct State & Territory action.
  • Governance, monitoring and evaluation arrangements should be strengthened with additional processes including annual reporting.
  • An annual national conference should be held on the NHRAP.
  • Implementation should be undertaken in consultation and partnership with NGO’s and affected communities.

In addition, the HRLC reiterates its support for the actions proposed in Making Rights Real that were not adopted in the draft NHRAP and proposes a number of additional actions. The submission also makes specific comments on particular actions proposed in the NHRAP.

For more information and resources on the National Human Rights Action Plan process please visit our dedicated website