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Commissioner Wilson sets out rights agenda

Rights and Freedoms

Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson has set out his key priorities for future work in the Rights & Responsibilities Consultation Report released today.

“After seeking the views of everyday Australians on the human rights issues that matter to them, I have identified five key priorities for future work: freedom of expression, religious freedom, property rights, freedom from arbitrary detention and human rights education,” Commissioner Wilson said.

“The role of the Human Rights Commissioner is to bring together individuals and groups to advance human rights causes and to prompt conversations that wouldn't otherwise occur.”

Rights & Responsibilities 2014 was a national consultation conducted by the Human Rights Commissioner between August and December 2014. The consultation examined how well people think their human rights and freedoms are protected in Australia.

“Through the consultation process, I actively engaged with communities in suburban, regional, remote and rural areas,” Commissioner Wilson said.

“I listened to the concerns of around 1,100 people at public events and meetings. I asked these everyday people what issues mattered to them and how well their rights and freedoms were protected.

“The issues raised are at the core of liberal individual human rights and freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of association, religious freedom and property rights.”

The Commissioner will prioritise the following areas of work in relation to human rights over the next four years:

  • Freedom of expression: the Commissioner will continue to explore the potential reforms in relation to current laws that restrict the right to freedom of expression.
  • Religious freedom: the Commissioner will form a religious freedom roundtable to bring together representatives of different faiths to facilitate how to advance religious freedom in Australia.
  • Property rights: the Commissioner will jointly facilitate a high-level forum with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner to discuss reforms that remove legal and regulatory barriers faced by native title holders seeking economic development.
  • Property rights: the Commissioner will undertake further work that examines the right to access affordable housing in Australia.
  • Freedom from arbitrary detention: the Commissioner will seek to work with relevant organisations to examine the denial of liberty for people with mental health issues.
  • Human rights education: the Commissioner will develop educational resources for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta on 15 June 2015.

The Human Rights Commissioner held 13 public events across Australia and more than 60 meetings with individuals and organisations. An online survey generated 991 responses and the Commissioner also received 68 written submissions as part of the consultation process.

Media contact: Dominic O’Grady on 0419 258 597