Submission: Putting an end to the over-criminalisation of public drinking in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory police’s excessive lock up powers are being used unfairly and disproportionately against Aboriginal people, which in turn increases the risk of deaths in custody, the Human Rights Law Centre has told an expert panel undertaking a review of the Northern Territory’s alcohol laws.

Download the HRLC submission here.

Read the media release accompanying the submission here

Submission: Review of the Australian National Contact Point

Ideally, the ANCP’s role should be to promote corporate good behaviour in accordance with the Guidelines and to try to help resolve disputes between complainants and companies in an objective and constructive manner. Unfortunately, as this submission sets out, the ANCP has a poor record in performing these functions. It conducts little outreach, its processes are opaque and slow-moving, it frequently fails to follow important aspects of the Guidelines and it evidences a concerning lack of objectivity and due process in the way it handles complaints, with few meaningful outcomes.

Download the HRLC submission here

Submission: A fair and community-led approach to remote community and economic development

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities are being denied basic rights, equal treatment and fair payment for work as a result of Federal Government policy, the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency and the Human Rights Law Centre told a Senate inquiry. In separate submissions to a Senate Committee examining the appropriateness and effectiveness of the Government’s Community Development Programme, both organisations have highlighted the inherent discrimination of the social security program.

Download the HRLC submission here.

Read the media release accompanying the submission here

Submission: Striking the right balance

The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief (hereafter referred to the right to freedom of religion or belief) is a fundamental, non-derogable right under international law. However, sadly, violations and abuses of the right to freedom of religion or belief continue around the world. Conversely, many human rights violations are perpetrated in the name of religion, including persecution of religious minorities, the subjugation of women, and attacks on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. This submission focuses on the status of the freedom of religion or belief in Australia and the gaps and issues relating to legal protection.

Download the HRLC submission here

Submission: Modern slavery in global supply chains

The HRLC seeks to ensure that Australian businesses are held accountable for the human rights impacts of their operations and that the Australian Government protects against corporate human rights abuses in accordance with its obligations under international and domestic law. Forced labour continues to affect millions of workers worldwide, including many in the supply chains of Australian companies. This Inquiry is a critical opportunity for the Australian Government to consider legislative action to help address an urgent global problem and show leadership on this issue within our region.

Download the HRLC submission here

Submission: Objective test in section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975

In a submission and evidence given to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, the Human Rights Law Centre raised serious concerns over the Government’s bill to water down both the wording and objective test in section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA). The bill would have removed the terms “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” from 18C and replaced it with “harrass”. It would have also changed the objective test against which courts assess whether racial vilification has had serious and profound effects – from the reasonable member of the relevant racial or ethnic group, to ‘a reasonable member of the Australian community.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Adrianne Walters said, “It is racial and ethnic minority groups that suffer the impacts of racism, not the Australian community as a whole. We cannot and should not expect a reasonable member of the Australian community who has never had the distressing and degrading experience of being called a coon, "a black c*#t", a terrorist, or being told that Hitler should have finished you, to understand the impact of such statements and the fear and sense of exclusion they create.”

Download the submission here [PDF]

Read the HRLC's statement here [PDF]

Submission: Youth Justice in Victoria

In a submission to a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry the Human Rights Law Centre said the Victorian Government must address the underlying causes of damaging incidents in youth justice centres including staffing and lockdowns.

“Locking children down in isolation, staff shortages and failing infrastructure have all contributed to problems which have plagued youth justice centres,” said Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre. “Successive governments have been on notice about the problems but have failed to properly address them.”

Download the submission here [PDF]

Read the media release accompanying the submission here

Submission: Achieving freedom to marry for LGBTI Australians

The current definition of marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) (Marriage Act) is underpinned by the view that the relationships and commitments of LGBTI people are somehow different and inferior, and does not allow LGBTI people the full right to equal treatment in Australian society. This view is out of step with human rights norms and principles, not supported by a majority of Australians and fails to reflect the reality of contemporary relationships and values in modern Australian society.

Download the HRLC submission here