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Organisational excellence - Annual Report 2011-2012: Australian Human Rights Commission

People and performance

Organisational excellence

Over the last year, the Commission has confirmed its strategic focus for the
next 3 years. A new Strategic Plan was introduced from 1 July 2011 for the
period to 30 June 2014. The 4 strategic goals for the period focus on:

  • Understanding and respect for rights
  • Human rights are respected and discrimination is addressed
  • Leadership and influence
  • Organisation excellence.

The plan sets two priority areas for
work for the next 3 years: building understanding and respect for rights in the
community, and tackling violence, harassment and bullying.

We have also participated in two significant processes to assess our
performance as a national human rights institution.

In August 2011, the Commission was re-accredited as an A-status National
Human Rights Institution by the International Coordinating Committee of National
Human Rights Institutions.

In order to receive A-status, NHRIs must be established and operate in
compliance with the United Nations Principles Relating to the Status of
National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
otherwise known as the Paris Principles. ‘A status’ national
institutions have participation rights in the human rights mechanisms at the
United Nations (including the UN Human Rights Council).

In re-accrediting the Commission, three recommendations were made about
issues that have the potential to impact on the required independence and
compliance of the Commission with the Paris Principles, as follows:

  • Removal of administrative requirements for the Commission to be bound by
    government Guidelines on Non-Campaign Recruitment Advertising (July 2010) and
    approval processes for travel of the President;
  • Amendment to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act to clearly provide
    that the Commission has the mandate to protect and promote economic, social and
    cultural rights; and
  • Provision of adequate funding to enable the Commission to fulfil its mandate
    effectively, including by addressing the impact of the regular application of
    an efficiency dividend to the Commission which has the potential to gradually
    erode its base level of funding and therefore reduce its capacity.

In April / May 2012, we undertook an assessment process to identify
the future capacity needs of the organisation to fulfil its mandate as a
national human rights institution. The process is a joint activity run by the
Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, the UN Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights, and United Nations Development Programme.
The preliminary results of the assessment were built into the Commission’s
strategic planning processes for 2012–13, and will inform how we implement
our Strategic Plan over the coming years.