State and Territory Charters of Human Rights
Following community consultations, legislative Charters of Human Rights (sometimes referred to as ‘Human Rights Acts’) have been adopted in Victoria and the ACT. For further information on developments in Victoria and the ACT, see our resources pages on the ACT Human Rights Act and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.
Other States and Territories have not adopted a Charter of Human Rights. However, in 2006 and 2007, the governments of Tasmania and Western Australia commissioned public consultation processes into human rights protections in those States. Both of these inquiries recommended that a Charter of Human Rights be enacted at a State level. (See the reports of the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute and the Consultation Committee for a Proposed WA Human Rights Act). The Tasmanian Department of Justice is currently undertaking a project involving further community consultations to examine a model for a Charter of Human Rights for Tasmania. However, the recommendation of the Western Australian committee has not been followed.
A Federal Charter of Human Rights?
At a national level, the ALP committed during the 2007 election campaign to conduct a public consultation on ‘how best to recognise and protect the human rights and freedoms enjoyed by all Australians’.
On 10 December 2008, Attorney-General the Hon Robert McClelland MP launched the National Human Rights Consultation. The Consultation was conducted by an independent Consultation Committee, which was chaired by Father Frank Brennan. The Committee made 31 recommendations, including that Australia should adopt a federal Human Rights Act.
On 21 April 2010, the Attorney-General responded to the Committee’s final report by launching 'Australia's Human Rights Framework' implemented by the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth).
The Act does not create a Charter of Rights. Instead, it establishes