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Civil and Political Rights

Free and Equal: An Australian conversation on human rights

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What makes an effective system of human rights protection for 21st century Australia? What are we doing well and what steps do we still need to take?

2022 Human Rights Oration by Larissa Behrendt

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Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt AO, winner of the 2021 Human Rights Medal, delivered the annual Human Rights Day Oration at the 2022 Human Rights Awards. She called for structural reform and self-determination for First Nations people: “Departments of child protection need to be replaced by empowered community-controlled organisations and true self determination. Child prisons and juvenile detention centres replaced with treatments that respect the humanity and vulnerability of children and strengthen families and communities.”

Human Rights Commissioner critical of COVID inquiry scope

Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of an inquiry into Australia’s handling of the COVID pandemic but has criticised the inquiry’s terms of reference for not having a specific focus on human rights impacts and for excluding the unilateral actions of state and territory governments.

Commission welcomes banning of spit hoods by AFP

A decision by the Australian Federal Police to end the use of spit hoods has been welcomed by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Today the AFP announced the AFP and ACT police will no longer use spit hoods, and instead the AFP will provide ‘alternative equipment and implement procedures to better protect officers from spitting and biting.’

Commission launches model for an Australian Human Rights Act

Australia is the only liberal democracy that does not have an act or charter of rights at the national level, and there are currently very few legal protections for the fundamental rights of Australians.

A National Human Rights Act for Australia


Urgent action needed following termination of UN inspection

The Australian Human Rights Commission says an extraordinary decision to terminate a tour of Australian places of detention by United Nations inspectors reflects Australia’s fragmented approach to protecting the human rights of people in detention.

Human Rights Commissioner to raise juvenile and immigration detention concerns with UN torture committee in Geneva

Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner is set to appear before the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva next week to provide analysis of how Australia measures up against our obligations under the UN’s Convention Against Torture (CAT) and its associated Optional Protocol (OPCAT).

Human Rights Commission calls for urgent action to address fallout from suspension of UN SPT visit

The Australian Human Rights Commission is urging all Australian state and territory governments to fully commit to implementing an important human rights framework for people held in detention settings following the suspension of a tour of Australia by United Nations inspectors.

New report aims to help fast-track Australia’s OPCAT implementation process

A new report released today by the Australian Human Rights Commission outlines activities required to expedite Australia’s sluggish approach to implementing the United Nation’s Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

Informed by the Commission’s recent National OPCAT Symposium, the Road Map to OPCAT Compliance provides a clear pathway for governments across Australia to meet a looming deadline for OPCAT compliance.