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The 2006–07 Annual Report is available on
HREOC’s website at: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/publications/annual_reports/2006_2007/
18 September 2007
The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP
Canberra ACT 2600
have pleasure in presenting the Annual Report of the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission for the period ending 30 June 2007, pursuant to section
45 of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986. The
report has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of
of the Public Service Act 1999.
The Hon. John von Doussa
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
- The Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry put federal
laws under the human rights microscope. It found that 58 laws discriminate
against more than 20 000 Australian same-sex couples - simply because of who
they love. The report and community guide was officially launched in Sydney on
22 June 2007.
- HREOC undertook several projects commemorating the
10th anniversary of the Bringing them home report and
coincided with commemorative events for the 40th Anniversary of the
- The Social Justice Commissioner, along with project
partners, continued to promote the Indigenous Health Equality campaign through
promotional events, speeches and information resources.
- The Sex Discrimination Unit’s major project
throughout this reporting year was the women, men, work and family project,
which entered its final stage with the launch of the It’s About Time:
Women, men, work and family final paper in March 2007. The launch was
followed up by a number of community, business and academic forums around the
country to disseminate the findings of the paper and gather feedback on the
- HREOC developed a number of projects aimed at supporting
Muslim communities in defending themselves against religious abuse and hatred.
These included: the Unlocking Doors Project aimed at facilitating a
dialogue between Muslim communities and police; and a Muslim women’s forum
on human rights, entitled Living Spirit: Muslim Women and Human Rights
Project – the right to participate in social change.
- HREOC welcomed the adoption of the Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2006 by the United Nations
General Assembly, and applauded the Australian Government’s signing of the
Convention on 30 March 2007. HREOC hosted a workshop on 27-28 June on the new
Convention for representatives of disability peak organisations, disability
advisory bodies and state and territory equal opportunity agencies.
- Action Plans under the Disability Discrimination Act provide an
important mechanism for organisations to structure their own compliance efforts.
As at 30 June 2007, 516 plans were registered with HREOC (an increase from 368
in June 2006).
- HREOC contributed to policy development and legislative
review through the many submissions made during the reporting period. These were
on a range of issues including: Aboriginal land rights, Australian citizenship,
the Commonwealth access card, pay equity and counter-terrorism
- One report of a breach of human rights was completed under
the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth).
- HREOC considered intervening in nine court cases that
raised human rights issues and made an application to intervene in two matters.
During 2006-07, Commissioners were granted leave to appear as amicus
curiae in five unlawful discrimination cases.
- The Legal Section organises seminars on topics of current
interest in domestic or international human rights law. During 2006-07, seminars
were held on: recent issues in Australia’s legal response to terrorism,
stolen wages – the way forward, and native title - developments in case
law and practice.
- HREOC’s most substantial international program involvement is with
the China-Australia Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program (HRTC), which is
an integral part of Australia’s annual inter-governmental Dialogue on
Human Rights with China. HREOC also participates in the annual Australia-Vietnam
Dialogue on International Organisations and Legal Issues, including Human
Rights. HREOC attended the 2007 Dialogue held in Hanoi in April 2007. HREOC also
participated in the Laos-Australia Human Rights Dialogue meeting, held in
Vientiane in October 2006.
- Over the past four reporting years HREOC has received, on
average, around 10 000 enquiries each year. In 2006-07, 16 606 enquiries were
dealt with by the Complaint Information Service.
- Over the past four reporting years HREOC has received, on
average, around 1250 complaints each year. In 2006-07 HREOC received 1779
- While there was an increase in the number of complaints
received in this reporting year, the Complaint Handling Section finalised 94
percent of matters within 12 months – a slight improvement on figures for
the previous reporting year. Thirty-eight percent were finalised by conciliation
– this is consistent with the conciliation rate for the previous three
- In 2006-07 HREOC issued 172 media releases and alerts, the
President and Commissioners had 18 opinion pieces published in major metro
newspapers across Australia and have conducted approximately 800 media
interviews. This represents an increase of 70 percent in media releases and 25
percent in media interviews from the previous reporting year.
- Usage of HREOC’s website has increased by 50 percent
from the previous year. There were 12 612 942 page views in 2006-07 equating to
85 281 017 hits on the site in total.
- HREOC’s online human rights education resources are
widely used by educators, both nationally and internationally. During 2006-07,
the resources received 1 140 587 page views. This is an increase of 25 percent
on usage of the online education resources since the previous financial
- In addition to all HREOC publications being made available
on HREOC’s website, around 100 000 publications were dispatched in
hardcopy format during 2006–07.
- The most popular publications were Face the Facts,
Voices of Australia (magazine and CD), Good Practice, Good
Business CD and The Complaint Guide.