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Urgent call for seriously ill Nauru children to be transferred

The Australian Human Rights Commission is calling on the Federal Government to urgently transfer any seriously unwell asylum seeker children – and their families – from Nauru to Australia.

The Commission notes several recent cases where the Federal Court of Australia has consistently found the health care services currently available on Nauru did not meet the needs of children with complex physical and mental health conditions.

Commission releases OPCAT interim report

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released an interim report on how Australia should implement a major anti-torture treaty to ensure detained people are not subjected to ill treatment.

Australia ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (OPCAT) on 21 December 2017, commencing a three year period to establish how it will comply with its obligations under the treaty.

Race, Disability and Human Rights at the UN

Three of our Commissioners have recently presented to the United Nations on the human rights situation in Australia.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane provided a video address to the Human Rights Council on March 19 about the “creeping tide” of racism.

He pointed out that xenophobia and hatred are resurgent.

“We have seen that when prejudice and intolerance are given endorsement in public debates, it can embolden a minority of society to vent their bigotry.

Close The Gap Day


March 15, 2018

Everyone deserves the right to a healthy future and the opportunities this afford. We are very lucky to live in a rich country with a universal health system.

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RightsTalk with Kenneth Roth

We are watched like never before. Governments, corporations and others are using new technologies to gather huge amounts of information about us. How will this unprecedented surveillance affect our human rights?
International human rights leader, Kenneth Roth, will consider this issue at a public event in Sydney. He will also discuss issues such as the global challenge of refugees and mass displacement, and the rise of populist leaders

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Australia ratifies major anti-torture treaty OPCAT

Australia has taken the final step necessary to ratify and implement a major international treaty that combats torture and other forms of mistreatment. This is an opportunity to protect the rights of people who are detained in Australia for generations to come.

The Australian Human Rights Commission welcomed the Australian Government’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) on December 21, 2017.

Statement to UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Geneva, Switzerland


27 November 2017

Chair and committee members: thank you for the opportunity to address you.

I am pleased to join you as Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner and as a representative of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Racial discrimination in multicultural Australia

Commission calls for calm on Manus Island

Australian Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow is calling on the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea to honour their international human rights obligations and avoid use of force on Manus Island.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has been monitoring the situation as it develops and has sought further detail on the events of today.

The presence of authorities at the Manus Island facility today is of particular concern to the Commission, which strongly supports the view of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, that violence must be avoided.

Research by Government Reform Bodies involving Vulnerable People and Populations

Ethics Training Day: Dealing with Vulnerability

Princeton Room, Bond University, 14 University Drive, Robina, Qld




I represent an organisation that works extensively with people who can be part of “vulnerable populations”. My background is as a human rights lawyer. While human rights and human ethics are not the same thing, there are some important cross-overs in how we work.

'Some improvement but more to do': Australia reports to UN

Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow has briefed the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva on Australia’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

“The Australian Human Rights Commission acknowledges some positive developments in how Australia protects human rights,” Commissioner Santow said.

“This includes the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.”