Human Rights Act Campaign
Human Rights Act for Queensland
QAI was involved in the steering committee of the alliance which initiated the campaign for a Human Rights Act for Queensland which culminated in passage of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld). QAI has long considered the introduction of legislative protection for fundamental human rights a key safeguard to protect and defend the rights and lives of the most vulnerable people with disability in Queensland.
This campaign was initiated in 2015 and was a collaborative effort involving over forty different community organisations representing a diversity of vulnerable Queenslanders. QAI was involved in the campaign steering committee from its inception and auspiced the campaign to give it legal status. In all of our campaign work, we ensured that the rights and needs of people with disability were a core focus.
The Human Rights for Queensland Alliance raised community awareness and support for legislative protection of human rights, lobbied key Members of Parliament and provided input into the preferred content and form of the Act.
In 2019, five years of consistent work, including brainstorming, strategising, lobbying politicians, raising public awareness, writing letters and submissions, appearing at public hearings, hosting events and engaging with the media, was rewarded with the passage of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) in February 2019.
The Queensland legislation has been described as the most effective human rights shield in Australia. The Act protects a broad range of civil and political rights, including the right to life, to recognition and equality before the law, protection against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to liberty and security of person, the right to a fair hearing, the right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty, property rights, privacy and reputation, as well as the economic, social and cultural rights to education and health services. It recognises and protects the cultural rights of Australia’s first people. The legislation establishes a dialogue model, which involves all three arms of government in protecting human rights. Importantly, in addition to judicial avenues, the Act establishes an inexpensive, accessible complaints mechanism, which enables people who have had their human rights engaged by a public entity (a government entity, or someone acting on behalf of a government entity) to go directly to the Queensland Human Rights Commission to have their issue heard and responded to.
QAI presented at or participated in numerous events as part of this campaign, including the Australian Society for Intellectual Disability conference, the Human Rights Forum held for the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Forum at Federation University, Ballarat, the “The Music of Human Rights”, Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University and at the Community Legal Centres Queensland Conference and National Association of Community Legal Centres conferences.
In February 2020, QAI wrote to the Queensland Attorney-General seeking that QAI be declared subject to the obligations of a public entity under the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld). We sought to assume these obligations on the basis of our support for this law reform, our belief in the positive value of this legislation and our commitment to Queensland’s human rights framework. This declaration was approved, and we became the first organisation to voluntarily opt-in to be bound by the HRA. We hope this contributes to developing a stronger human rights culture within Queensland and encourages other organisations to do the same.
QAI has also supported the developing campaign for a federal Human Rights Act, with one of our Principal Solicitors, Emma Phillips, holding the position of Chair of the Human Rights Act sub-committee of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights for a period of two years.
Image of letter board used across social media to promote the campaign.
Resources from the campaign
The following factsheets and resources were prepared for the Human Rights Act for Queensland campaign. They may still be useful in helping to explain how the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) might help specific groups of people or circumstances.
Background paper – A Human Rights Act for Queensland
This paper explains the features of a Human Rights Act (Part 1) and the key benefits of having human rights protections (Part 2).
Lobby your MP
This factsheet provided an overview of the proposed Human Rights Act.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
This factsheet provided examples of how human rights protection in other places has improved the lives of indigenous peoples.
Access to justice
This factsheet explained how human rights legislation can improve the ability of people to access justice.
Children and young people
This factsheet provided examples of how human rights legislation in other places has improved the lives of children and young people.
Culturally and linguistically diverse communities
This factsheet provided examples of how human rights legislation in other places has improved the lives of people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
This factsheet provides examples of how human rights legislation in other places has assisted people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
This factsheet provides examples of how human rights legislation in other places has improved the lives of older people.
People with disability
This factsheet provides examples of how human rights legislation in other places has improved the lives of people with disability.
People who are LGBTIQ
This factsheet provides examples of how human rights legislation in other places has improved the lives of people who are LGBTIQ.
This fact sheet explains how a Human Rights Act could improve things for Queenslanders in rural, regional and remote areas.
Women experiencing domestic violence
This factsheet provides examples of how human rights legislation in other places has improved the lives of women experiencing domestic violence.