Australia is the only liberal democracy that does not have a bill or charter of rights at the national level, and people’s human rights are not very well protected in Australian law. The starting point for a national Human Rights Act is to recognise that people’s human rights matter, all of the time, and should be protected.
Australia has strong sense of human rights and freedoms, but the basic human rights of Australian people are not very well protected in Australian law.
Australia is the only liberal democracy in the world that does not have a national act or charter of rights that explains what people’s basic rights are and how they can be protected.
Some states and territories in Australia have their own Human Rights Act, but Australia needs a national Human Rights Act to ensure that the rights of all Australian are protected, all of the time.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has developed a model for what a national Human Rights Act might look like, how it could function, and what it would do.
The Commission’s model would create legal protections for the human rights of all Australians, and ways to seek justice if people’s rights are breached in some way.
It would also provide options for people to challenge decisions that breach their human rights, and opportunities to go to court if their issues can’t be resolved through conciliation.
This model would also increase the responsibility that governments have, to consider how their laws, policies, and actions might affect people’s human rights.
For more information
The Commission’s proposed Human Rights Act is comprehensively explained in its Position Paper. The Summary Report provides an overview of the key points. You can download these below.
You can also download a two-page explainer document, which provides a simple explanation of why Australia needs a Human Rights Act, and how the Commission’s model would operate.
The Position Paper has been developed as part of the Commission’s Free and Equal project, which has examined human rights and anti-discrimination law in Australia.
Position Paper: A Human Rights Act For Australia (Complete report PDF version)
Position Paper: A Human Rights Act for Australia (Complete report) – Word Version
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On 7 March 2023, the Australian Human Rights Commission officially launched our Position Paper outlining our proposal for a Human Rights Act for Australia. The launch featured a speech from Commission President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, and a panel discussion featuring a range of legal, human rights and parliamentary experts.
You can view the speech and panel discussion here.