Learn more about the recent passage of a Human Rights Act in QLD

Visit the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland Website to learn more about their new Human Rights Act

Queensland Human Rights Act

On 27 February 2019 the Queensland Parliament passed the Human Rights Bill.

The Human Rights Act 2019 will protect 23 rights, including the right to privacy, access to education and health services, cultural rights, and more, and is expected to commence on 1 January 2020.

The Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland will be renamed the Queensland Human Rights Commission, and continue its complaints handling, education, and training functions under the Anti-Discrimination Act . The Commission will also work to resolve human rights complaints, as well as provide information, education, and training on the Human Rights Act .

About the Act

The Act protects 23 rights which are:

  • recognition and equality before the law

  • right to life

  • protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

  • freedom from forced work

  • freedom of movement

  • freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief

  • freedom of expression

  • peaceful assembly and freedom of association

  • taking part in public life

  • property rights

  • privacy and reputation

  • protection of families and children

  • cultural rights – generally

  • cultural rights – Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples

  • right to liberty and security of person

  • humane treatment when deprived of liberty

  • fair hearing

  • rights in criminal proceedings

  • children in the criminal process

  • right not to be tried or punished more than once

  • retrospective criminal laws

  • right to education

  • right to health services.

The Act will require public entities — government departments, local councils, or other organisations providing functions of a public nature — to make decisions and act compatibly with human rights, and parliament to consider human rights when passing new legislation or amending current laws.

The Queensland Human Rights Commission will provide a dispute resolution process for handling human rights complaints.

The obligations and dispute resolution functions are expected to start from 1 January 2020.

You can read the Human Rights Bill on the Queensland Parliament website , along with the:

  • Explanatory Notes which explain the objectives of the Bill in more detail; and

  • Introductory speech given by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.

What happens now?

The Act will go to the Governor to sign (the royal assent) and in due course a proclamation will state when the Act commences.

lt is expected to start in two stages. The first stage is expected to be on 1 July 2019, when the name of the Commission will change to the Queensland Human Rights Commission, and we will start providing information services. The second stage is expected to be on 1 January 2020 when all other obligations will commence.

from: https://www.adcq.qld.gov.au/human-rights/queensland-human-rights-act

Leading Australian Human Rights Lawyers welcome a new era of human rights protection in Queensland

Leading Australian human rights lawyers congratulate the Queensland Government for passing the Human Rights Bill.  The Act will protect a broad range of human rights, including fundamental civil and political rights, the economic, social and cultural rights to education and health services and the cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  It establishes responsibilities by public entities making decisions that impact on the rights of all Queenslanders.

“This is a significant milestone in Australian history,” Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) President Kerry Weste said. “We now have three Australian states and territories – the ACT, Victoria and Queensland – that have enacted legislative protection for human rights.”

Dr Emma Phillips, Chair of ALHR’s National Human Rights Act Subcommittee, has been actively involved in the Queensland campaign for a Human Rights Act and has welcomed the legislative reform.  “The passage of the Human Rights Bill will be instrumental in the development of a human rights culture in Queensland.”

“This is the strongest model of human rights protection we have seen yet in Australia,” Dr Phillips explained.  “The inclusion of an accessible complaints mechanism, which allows anyone who considers their human rights have been infringed by a public entity to go directly to the rebranded Queensland Human Rights Commission to have their issue heard and responded to is really important.  In developing this complaints mechanism, the Queensland Government has taken heed of the recommendations of the review of the Victorian Charter which noted the importance of an accessible complaints mechanism. This is landmark law reform and we anticipate that this will set a positive precedent for human rights law reform in other Australian jurisdictions.”

“Australia is the only western liberal democracy without a federal Human rights act or charter of rights,” Ms Weste stated. “Australia has committed to respecting and protecting a broad range of human rights by signing and ratifying relevant international human rights treaties and conventions – it is vitally important that we honour this commitment (and offer Australians the protection people in comparable countries enjoy) by enacting appropriate legislation at both a state and federal level.”

ALHR hopes that the enactment of human rights legislation in Queensland, which complements the human rights legislation already existing in the ACT and Victoria, will be the impetus needed to prompt remaining states and territories to introduce state human rights legislation and the Australian Government to introduce a federal Human Rights Act or Charter.  

The 2008/2009 National Human Rights Consultation Committee inquiry headed by Father Frank Brennan recorded extremely high levels of public support for the enactment of a federal Human Rights Act, yet to date, the Committee’s recommendation to enact a Federal Human Rights Act has not been realised.  

ALHR calls on the Federal Government to enact a Federal Human Rights Act as an urgent priority.

Contact: Matt Mitchell, ALHR media manager 0431 980 365.

ALHR was established in 1993 and is a national association of Australian solicitors, barristers, academics, judicial officers and law students who practise and promote international human rights law in Australia. ALHR has active and engaged National, State and Territory committees and specialist thematic committees. Through advocacy, media engagement, education, networking, research and training, ALHR promotes, practices and protects universally accepted standards of human rights throughout Australia and overseas.

The report is out - time for our rights to come home!

The Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee has just published their report about Queensland's Human Rights Bill.  

The report says:

"The committee recommends that the Human Rights Bill 2018 be passed."

The Government can now pass our Human Rights Bill into law in parliament. 

The Committee received almost 300 submissions. The submissions demonstrated overwhelming community support for a Human Rights Act.

During the public hearing, people who know Queenslanders are not always treated fairly told the Committee that a Human Rights Act would improve things. Scott McDougall, Anti-Discrimination Commissioner said:

"In the course of my career, before I came to the commission I worked for a long time in the community legal service sector and I would have come across literally hundreds, if not thousands, of clients who could have benefited from a human rights act in Queensland."

In the ACT and Victoria, where human rights laws have been in place since 2004 and 2006, people have been saved from eviction into homelessness, people with disability have asserted their rights to access the resources and things they need to live a life with dignity and new laws and policies have been shaped with human rights in mind.

It’s time for a NSW Human Rights Act.

Source: https://www.humanrights4qld.com.au/news

Australia was integral to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Now we are the only Western Democracy without a Charter of Rights

December 10th 2018 was Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a milestone document, which underpins all international human rights law and inspires us to continue to work to ensure all people can live in freedom, equality and dignity.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) President Kerry Weste says, “Australia was a founding member of the UN and one of eight nations involved in drafting the UDHR. We should be very proud of the part we played as a nation and of our human rights heroes like Dr Herbert Vere Evatt, President of the UN General Assembly who oversaw the adoption of the UDHR, and Colonel William Roy Hodgson who, as a member of the committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, was influential in the UDHR’s drafting and inception.”

“How can it be then that Australia is the only Western democracy bereft of a national Human Rights Act to legally protect the basic rights and freedoms of all Australians? As former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission Professor Gillian Triggs said last year, we should all be alarmed at the failure of our legal system to protect fundamental rights. These rights have evolved over millennia as the very foundations of democracy. In recent years increasingly disproportionate government measures and excessive executive powers have become all too routine”.

“It is time to reignite the dialogue about a federal Charter of Rights for Australia. Every Australian deserves to be treated fairly and equally. We now have Human Rights Acts in the ACT, Victoria and a Bill before the QLD Parliament. A Federal Human Rights Act would ensure that, instead of selectively enshrining Australia’s international legal obligations in Commonwealth legislation on a piecemeal basis, the human rights of all Australians are protected from unreasonable, unfair and unwarranted incursions by the Executive. This is about good governance. The people of Australia deserve nothing less.”

“After all, this protection is something which is enjoyed by the citizens of every other comparable democratic nation. These nations have not descended into chaos as a result of entrenching protection for basic human rights in law.”

see https://alhr.org.au/udhr70/