In November 2010, the Victorian Department of Health released an Exposure Draft of the Mental Health Bill 2010 for public comment. The current Mental Health Act 1986 (Vic) is more than 20 years old and reflects an outdated and inappropriate approach to the care and treatment of people with mental illness. The HRLRC has made a submission on the Bill’s compliance with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006 (Vic) and Australia's international human rights obligations, particularly in relation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
On 26 October 2010, the Senate referred the Commonwealth Commissioner for Children and Young People Bill 2010 to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report in May 2011. The purpose of the Bill is to establish an independent statutory office of Commonwealth Commissioner for Children and Young People, to advocate at a national level for the needs, rights and views of people below the age of eighteen.
The HRLRC has made a submission to the Senate Committee.
On 20 October 2010, the Tasmanian Government released a ‘Directions Paper’ proposing a Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities for Tasmania. The Government is seeking responses to the paper by 14 January 2011. The HRLRC has prepared a comprehensive submission, Towards a Tasmanian Charter of Human Rights.
The Australian Government is currently considering a draft text of a third optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which has been circulated by the UN Open-ended Working Group on an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The draft third OP seeks to establish an individual communications (complaints) mechanism in relation to the CRC, together with an inquiry and inter-state complaints procedure. On 9 November 2010, the Australian Government invited stakeholders for input on Australia's approach to the draft optional protocol.
On 11 November 2010, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre made an Initial Submission to the Australian Government on the Elaboration and Adoption of a Third Optional Protocol to the CRC.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is drafting a general comment on the right to sexual and reproductive health and has invited organisations to submit written contributions on this issue. On 8 November 2010, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre made a Submission to UN CESCR on the Right to Sexual and Reproductive Health of Prisoners and Detainees.
The Australian Government has tasked the Australian Public Service Commission to revise the Australian Public Service Values (APS Values) to a ‘smaller set of core values that are meaningful, memorable and effective in driving change’. Among other considerations, this revision should seek to ‘affirm the importance of including consideration of human rights issues in policy making’. On 28 July 2010, the HRLRC made a Submission to the APSC setting out the reasons for which the APS Values and Code of Conduct should be revised to require that the APS ‘actively respects, protects, promotes and fulfils human rights’, and the other educational and cultural measures and strategies that would support the entrenchment and realization of this value.
On 5 November 2010, the HRLRC made a further Submission to the APSC in response to a 'Proposed New Set of APS Values' released by the APS on 3 November.
On 29 October 2010, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre and the PILCH Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic made a joint submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee on the Civil Dispute Resolution Bill 2010. The Bill: requires civil litigants to take genuine steps to resolve disputes before legal proceedings are instituted in the Federal Court or the Federal Magistrates Court; sets out the powers of court in relation to the genuine steps requirements and awarding costs; and provides that certain categories of legal proceedings are excluded proceedings.
On 26 October 2010, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the provisions of the Sex and Age Discrimination Legislation Amendment Bill 2010:
On 19 October 2010, the coronial inquest began into the death of 15 year old Tyler Cassidy, who was shot by Victoria Police in December 2008. The Human Rights Law Resource Centre has intervened to provide the Coroner with assistance on the relevance of the Victorian Charter to the proceeding.
The HRLRC has made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Inquiry into the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Bill 2010 and the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2010. Notwithstanding gaps and deficiencies in the Government’s Human Rights Framework, the HRLRC welcomes the establishment of a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and supports the expeditious passage of the Bills.