“Australian Human Rights Commission: A Call for National Human Rights Act”,

Australia, Human Rights

Australian Human Rights Commission President, in her final weeks of a seven-year term, delivered a powerful speech under the banner of “Free and Equal.” She highlighted the importance of the Australian Human Rights Commission as a key accountability mechanism in the democracy, pushing governments to do more and better in protecting human rights.

The President emphasized the need for significant action from the government to improve human rights protection in Australia, as the nation has lost its way over the past 15 years. She pointed out four main areas of concern: outdated and confusing discrimination laws, lack of accountability, insufficient public education about human rights, and a significant lack of measurable data to track progress.

The President called for a national Human Rights Act, which would require Parliament to consider more directly how their lawmaking affects people’s freedoms and rights. A Human Rights Act would also create clear expectations for public officials, setting out what rights everyone in the community should enjoy and building a culture of rights awareness.

The President urged the government to be accountable for how they seek engagement with affected communities and what they do in response to it. She emphasized that the lack of participation by affected communities is a fundamental problem in law and policymaking in Australia.

The President concluded by stressing the importance of approaching the task of designing laws and policies with the lens of advancing people’s rights, which would result in better decisions and outcomes. If all else fails, the Human Rights Act would provide a remedial framework to administrative review and the courts.