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Annual Report 2007-2008: Chapter 2 - Human Rights Education and Promotion

Chapter 2
Human Rights Education and Promotion

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A central function of HREOC is to undertake education programs that increase public awareness and generate discussion of human rights and anti-discrimination issues within Australia.
HREOC’s legislative responsibilities are:

  1. To promote an understanding and acceptance of, and compliance with, the relevant Act:
    • Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act section 11(1)(g)
    • Racial Discrimination Act section 20(1)(b)
    • Sex Discrimination Act section 48(1)(d)
    • Disability Discrimination Act section 67(1) (g)
    • Age Discrimination Act section 53(aa)
  2. To undertake research and education programs for the purpose of promoting the objects of the relevant Act:
    • Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act section 11(1)(h)
    • Racial Discrimination Act section 20(1)(c)
    • Sex Discrimination Act section 48(1)(e)
    • Disability Discrimination Act section 67(1)(h)
    • Age Discrimination Act section 53(ac)

Human rights education is also an international obligation which Australia has consistently supported. In the earliest international articulation of universal human rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the General Assembly proclaimed:

every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect of these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.

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Education is a crucial area of HREOC’s work. At a basic level, everything HREOC does – from resolving individual complaints to holding national inquiries – is about human rights education and communication.

The aims of HREOC’s education and communications program are to:

  • raise awareness about human rights and responsibilities, within the Australian context
  • stimulate discussion around key human rights issues
  • promote community ownership of human rights
  • promote awareness of HREOC’s complaint process and rights protected under its laws
  • provide information to the widest possible audience in a range of accessible formats.

HREOC uses a range of strategies to communicate its key messages, including:

  • media engagement, with metropolitan, regional and specialist press, radio and television outlets
  • the President, Commissioners and staff holding consultations with a range of Non Government Organisations (NGOs) (including peak bodies), community groups, parliamentarians, business and industry groups, academics and government officers
  • an extensive and accessible website which includes human rights information and education materials for students, teachers, employers, government, media, community groups and individuals
  • curriculum-linked human rights education materials for teachers and students which are promoted on-line and at education/teaching conferences, workshops and forums around the country
  • new web technologies and social networking sites (such as Facebook and YouTube) and popular media (such as blogs, bulletin boards and e-forums)
  • publishing and distributing plain English reports, discussion papers, brochures, posters and other resources (CD-Roms and DVDs) on human rights and discrimination issues
  • hosting conferences, seminars, forums and events, such as the annual Human Rights Medal and Awards ceremony.

Specific human rights educational and promotional programs conducted by individual Commissioners are detailed later in this Report.

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HREOC has consistently engaged with the media to promote human rights issues. This is a crucial element of HREOC’s public education function.

Each year the President and Commissioners give hundreds of interviews to newspaper, television, radio and on-line media outlets, as well as specialist, Indigenous and ethnic media.

Extensive coverage of major HREOC reports has been critical in drawing public attention to important human rights issues and bringing about positive change in attitudes, laws and policies.

All HREOC media releases, opinion pieces and speeches are available at:

In 2007-08, HREOC issued 154 media releases and alerts. The President and Commissioners had 20 opinion pieces published in major metropolitan newspapers throughout Australia and conducted hundreds of media interviews resulting in a significant range of press, radio and television coverage. Several thousand media enquiries were received.

Image of Social Justice Report 2007 Cover


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During 2007-08, Commissioners engaged with the media on a diverse range of issues. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, was extensively interviewed after the Social Justice Report 2007 and Native Title Report 2007 were tabled in Parliament on 20 March 2008


HREOC’s President and three Commissioners contributed to public debate through the media on a diverse range of human rights, equality and discrimination issues.

President von Doussa engaged in public debate on a range of human rights issues, including: anti-terrorism laws, work and family balance and paid maternity leave issues following the launch of the It’s About Timereport and a charter of rights.

Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes was interviewed and quoted in a range of media for the state launches of the Same-Sex: Same EntitlementsInquiry and report and on the removal of discrimination against gay and lesbian people from all federal legislation.

Commissioner Innes also appeared in the media on issues related to refugees and asylum seekers, including: immigration detention centres, the end of temporary protection visas for refugees and the government’s decision to end the Pacific Solution.

As Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Innes commented on access issues in relation to transport and buildings, DVD and cinema captioning, and employment issues for people with disability.

He made media comment on the implications under the Disability Discrimination Act for taxi drivers who refused to carry people with a disability and was interviewed about the government’s decision to sign the International Convention for Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In conjunction with the Australian Electoral Commission, Mr Innes also promoted electronically assisted voting for vision-impaired people in electorates around the country where this initiative was being trialled in the lead up to, and on the day of, the Federal Election.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick promoted the findings of the It’s About Timereport and had ongoing media exposure in every state and territory as she undertook her national Listening Tour.

Commissioner Broderick also promoted debate in the media about the introduction of a paid maternity leave scheme. This involved working with external organisations, such as the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), for the organisation of a joint opinion piece for publication in major metropolitan press, a joint media release and promotion of HREOC’s submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Paid Maternity, Paternity and Parental Leave.

Ms Broderick also completed a range of interviews on sexual harassment, the ‘glass ceiling’ for women in work and gender pay issues.

In her capacity as Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination, Commissioner Broderick completed a range of interviews dealing with issues related to age discrimination.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma’s 2007 Social Justice Reportand 2007 Native Title Reportwere tabled in federal Parliament on 20 March.

Commissioner Calma completed a range of media interviews about these reports and other major milestones such as: the National Apology, the first-ever Indigenous Health Equality Summit and the signing of a Statement of Intent to Close the Gap in life expectancy rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with the Prime Minister. He also appeared in a range of media in relation to the 10th anniversary of the Bringing Them HomeReport and the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum.

Mr Calma made an address at the National Press Club on 4 July and engaged in media debate about issues such as: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, alcohol management plans, 99-year land leases, changes to the Community Development Employment Projects scheme and a proposal for a new national Indigenous representative body.

As acting Race Discrimination Commissioner, Commissioner Calma completed a range of interviews about racial vilification and discrimination issues. In these interviews he addressed issues such as: HREOC’s position paper on multiculturalism, the Government’s Citizenship Test, protests against a proposed Islamic school in Camden, racism in sport and HREOC’s Community Policing Partnerships Project, which invites Muslim communities and Police to establish viable projects to help build relationships and trust at the local level.

Mr Calma also commented on the federal government’s ‘emergency response’ in the Northern Territory which breached the Racial Discrimination Act.

Each year HREOC promotes the annual Human Rights Medal and Awards, which includes categories to recognise the outstanding contribution to human rights through the print media, radio or television. President von Doussa completed interviews both prior to and after the event to assist in its promotion.

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Community consultations provide a valuable two-way exchange of information between HREOC and the many different organisations with which it works.

During 2007-08 the President, Commissioners and their staff met with a wide range of peak bodies, community groups, NGOs, government agencies, business and industry groups, parliamentarians, lawyers and academics.

Community consultations have been the foundation of recent projects that have aimed to investigate prejudice against Arab and Muslim Australians, develop strategies to strike the work-life balance in employment and to respond to concerns regarding changes in Indigenous affairs.

HREOC also employs seminars and workshops as a means of sharing information about its activities, such as its complaint handling role, or to discuss emerging issues in human rights law.

Consultations held during the reporting period included:

  • The Disability Discrimination Commissioner and staff were involved in numerous meetings with community organisations, advocacy groups, academics, employers and employer groups, federal and state ministers, and other members of parliament.
  • The Sex and Age Discrimination Commissioner (and former Acting Commissioner John von Doussa) were involved in approximately 220 meetings. These consultations have been with community organisations and activists, academics, employers and employer groups, unions, federal Ministers and other Members of Parliament.
  • The Race Discrimination Commissioner and staff held approximately 67 meetings, including 38 meetings with key organisations and individuals in Victoria, and 29 in New South Wales as part of the Muslim Women and Human Rights Forum. Also included was the Unlocking Doors Forum which was attended by various members of Victoria Police, the Islamic Council and NSW Police Commissioner, Ken Moroney. In addition, a member of staff attended the New Zealand National Diversity Forum and met with staff from the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and New Zealand Police Service to discuss issues of common concern, including those in relation to the Muslim community projects.
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Social Justice Commissioner and staff held approximately 50 meetings/consultations, including the convening of the National Indigenous Health Equality Summit.
  • The Human Rights Commissioner and staff held approximately 65 meetings, which included consultations with people who are sex and gender diverse, regarding human rights issues that affect them.
  • In this reporting year, over 59 organisations throughout all states and territories either attended information sessions on the law and the complaint process run by CHS staff or were visited by CHS staff. These organisations included: community legal centres; professional associations and unions; Aboriginal legal centres; multicultural organisations; youth organisations; legal centres; neighbourhood centres and disability groups. Locations visited included Darwin, Alice Springs, Perth, Kalgoorlie, Melbourne, Launceston, Adelaide, Brisbane, Townsville, Sydney, Lismore, Ballina, Mudgee, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.

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2.4 HREOC Website–

HREOC’s website was established in 1998. Since that time it has become the organisation’s primary source of information dissemination. It is widely used by government, the media, schools, individuals, legal, community and employer organisations to obtain information about human rights and responsibilities and anti-discrimination law and practice.

The HREOC website is maintained to ensure that the most up-to-date information is posted daily. All reports, submissions, media releases and other HREOC publications are available on-line in a variety of formats.

Web resources also include an on-line complaints form and information for complainants and respondents, a range of curriculum-linked human rights education resources for schools, information resources for employees and employers, a legal section which provides full details of legislation and other legal issues, and information on the work of the President and Commissioners.

Snap shot of the HREOC website
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The HREOC website was completely
redesigned in August 2007 in order
to provide a superior service and
common navigation and style
across the entire site

Electronic mailing lists

HREOC offers subscription electronic mailing lists, maintained by Public Affairs, to communicate up-to-date information about current human rights issues, both at a domestic and international level.

Interested parties can subscribe to a variety of mailing lists offered on the basis of specific interests, including human rights education, information for employers, legal and complaints, human rights, Indigenous, disability rights updates, and racial discrimination and sex discrimination. Subscribers can also join a priority list and receive the entire set of information sent to all lists.

At the end of the reporting period there were 18 628 subscribers across the various electronic mailing lists.

HREOC also maintains on-going communication with teachers and education bodies through an electronic mailing list, providing regular updates about:

  • the most recent human rights education activities
  • reviews and links to human rights education resources
  • reviews of particular sections of HREOC’s website that would be useful to educators
  • upcoming human rights education events.

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2.4.1 Major additions and improvements in 2007-08

Website redesign

In August 2007, the HREOC website was redesigned in order to provide improved architecture and a common navigation and style across the site. Introductions to each section of the site were rewritten in a plain English style to be concise and easy to understand. New additions included a ‘mature age’ section, a Community Partnerships for Human Rights section, on-line blogs and audio and video files to download. The ‘Education’, ‘Legal Research and Resources’ and ‘About HREOC’ sections were also made more prominent.

Accessibility/usability features

The HREOC website redesign employed Cascading Style Sheets to incorporate accessibility issues covered by web standards such as: the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (1999), AGIMO Web Publishing Guide: Accessibility (2007) and the HREOC WWW Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Note version 3.2 (2002).

In addition to the new visual design, the updated website includes new accessibility features such as:

  • a facility to increase text size across the site
  • access keys (keyboard based shortcuts)
  • navigation (not graphical) text based headings for screen readers and people with visual impairment
  • new ‘print friendly’ features
  • a simplified process for joining mailing lists, and
  • an improved, more intuitive website search function, powered by the Funnelback search engine.

Major on-line publications

Major publications produced and added on-line during the reporting period included:

  • information sheets, such as Discrimination: Don’t Cop it, a resource for young people, and Human Rights Explained
  • updates and additions to curriculum-linked human rights education resources, such as:
    • Bringing Them Home: education resources about the stolen generations
    • Face the Facts: Questions and Answers about Refugees, Migrants and Indigenous Peoples
  • Commission reports and publications, such as:
    • Social Justice Report 2007
    • Native Title Report 2007
    • Us Taken-Away Kids – Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home Report
    • Achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Within a Generation
    • Living Spirit: Report on HREOC’s Muslim Women’s Projects
    • gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex equality pages
    • speeches and other presentations by the President and Commissioners
    • Human Rights Medal and Awards website section to promote HREOC’s annual Human Rights Medal and Awards, and
    • a range of legal submissions made to the Parliament and other bodies by HREOC.

Face the Facts cover image
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A number of major HREOC publications,
such as the Face the Facts: Questions and
Answers about Refugees, Migrants and
Indigenous Peoples
teaching resources
and worksheets, were added on-line
during 2007-08

Listening Tour

In November 2007, HREOC developed its first blog to support the consultation process of the national Listening Tour, conducted by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick. The blog included an on-line diary from the Commissioner, featuring reflections of her meetings with groups of people around Australia, as well as forums in which users could write about their own experiences on the themes of the tour. During the reporting period the blog received 51 982 page views, which equates to approximately 85 379 hits and 7 647 unique visits. A selection of blog quotes were used in the community guide of the Listening Tour.

Information for employers/employees

There is an ongoing need to educate employers and employees about their rights and responsibilities under federal anti-discrimination laws, especially in today’s changing industrial relations environment. On-line resources, such as Work Out Your Rightsand Good Practice, Good Business, provide practical information about dealing with discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Information for employers is available at and information for employees at

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2.4.2 Statistics

HREOC uses a web statistics system that tracks both the number of visitors to the site and the way visitors use the site. This allows HREOC to identify materials that are particularly successful or popular and other areas that have room for improvement.

The site received approximately 11 195 404 page views on the server during 2007-08.This equates to approximately 73 246 868 hits on the site in total and 3 728 515 unique visits.

A summary of statistical information is provided below:

Table 2: Visitors to HREOC website by page view
Section Views of section home page Views of all pages in section
HREOC Homepage 
280 576 n/a
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
78 202 963 871
Complaints Information
48 185 299 631
Disability Rights
74 760 1 470 096 
Human Rights
71 186 983 912
Legal Information
47 143 588 544
Racial Discrimination
53 139 315 148
Sex Discrimination
166 560 687 302
Age Discrimination
42 149 59 322
Information for Employers
23 663 204 223
71 160 n/a
Media Releases Index
49 100 679 275
Job Vacancies
51 438 58 522
Human Rights Education Resources
n/a 939 141

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HREOC’s Human Rights Education Program aims to help students develop a critical understanding of human rights and responsibilities, as well as develop the attitudes, behaviours and skills to apply them in everyday life. It is guided by a clear set of education principles and learning outcomes.

HREOC’s approach supports the goals and direction of the World Programme for Human Rights Education. The first phase of the World Programme (2005-2009) is focused on supporting human rights education in primary and secondary schools.

HREOC works with Australia’s state and territory education departments, schools, organisations and facilitators to promote an understanding of and commitment to human rights education.

Many schools, principals and individual teachers have made concerted efforts to integrate human rights education into their teaching practice, classroom activities and school communities.

HREOC produces a wide range of human rights education resources for teachers, which are free to download. There are resource sheets, worksheets and interactive activities, along with links to useful Australian and international websites.

HREOC also offers professional development seminars that support teachers with ideas and approaches to teaching human rights and responsibilities.

Human rights education principles

The modules that make up the human rights education program draw students into real-life situations, relevant to their own experiences, which can be explored in the context of Australian and international law.

The teaching and learning activities that are published by HREOC are designed to be:

  • contextual: human rights are discussed in social contexts relevant to the learners
  • skills-oriented: human rights education develops skills, and is linked with literacy, numeracy and decision making skills
  • cross-curricular: human rights, as human experience, are relevant to all aspects of learning
  • discursive: learning is based on discussion, exchanging ideas and values, understanding human communication
  • inclusive: allow all students, regardless of their learning styles/abilities, to participate.

Educational outcomes

HREOC’s human rights education resources are designed to assist students in developing:

  • an understanding of what human rights are and an understanding of the origins of modern human rights
  • an appreciation of the meaning and significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments
  • an understanding of how human rights instruments are applied in Australian law and society
  • an ability to apply the concepts of human rights to their daily lives
  • an understanding of issues concerning asylum seekers and refugees, migrants and multiculturalism and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • research and fact-sourcing skills, and an ability to think creatively and to communicate information to others
  • decision making skills, within an individual, group and class context
  • literacy skills, including critical literacy, code breaking and comprehension skills, through reading and responding to a variety of texts, both orally and through writing
  • skills in describing, reflecting, interpreting, analysing, evaluating and higher order thinking.

Educational content

HREOC has linked its core human rights education modules with curriculum frameworks from Education Department’s across each Australian State and Territory.

Links have been established in a range of key learning areas including Studies of Society and Environment (especially Aboriginal Studies and Australian Studies), English, Civics and Citizenship/Discovering Democracy, Geography, History, and Drama.

The resources provide significant flexibility for delivery – teachers can incorporate individual activities into an existing program or teach the module as a whole.

Educational resources

HREOC’s Human Rights Education Program includes a range of interactive, resource-rich, web-based learning modules for use in the classroom with students ranging in age from 10-17.

The resources are designed to introduce Australian students to human rights concepts in an engaging, relevant way, and provide useful resources and lesson plans to teachers for use in the classroom. These include:

Youth Challenge: Teaching Human Rights and Responsibilities

The Youth Challenge Program includes a website, CD-Rom, DVD and teaching strategies and worksheets for use in the classroom.

Youth Challenge assists students to focus on real life issues such as sex, race and disability discrimination, sexual harassment and rights in the workplace and encourages them to explore the relevance of human rights to their own experiences and communities.

Image of the Youth Challenge DVD Cover





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HREOC's Human Rights Education
Program includes a range of interactive,
resource-rich web-based learning
modules for use in the classroom


The Youth ChallengeProgram is broken into four distinct units:

  • Unit 1: Human Rights in the Classroom
  • Unit 2: Disability Discrimination – ‘But what about Doug’s rights?’
  • Unit 3: Young People in the Workplace
  • Unit 4: Tackling Sexual Harassment in Your Classroom

Bringing Them Home

This education module introduces students and teachers to some of the key issues in HREOC’s Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. It gives students the opportunity to research issues and engage in debate in an informed way.

The education resources were updated in 2007 to reflect changes over the 10 years since the Bringing Them HomeReport was released. The updated version has activities that are based on the complementary poster, DVD and magazine ‘Us Taken-Away Kids’. The activities have been modified so that they are more user-friendly for teachers.

Bringing them home Education Module CD Cover





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Education modules such as the Bringing Them Home CD provide students with the opportunity to research issues and engage in debate in an informed way


Voices of Australia: An education resource for Australian secondary school teachers

Voices of Australia: Education Module allows for the different stories of Australian people to be heard and celebrated in the classroom. Students will increase their awareness about experiences of diversity, discrimination, race relations, friendship, and respect. The education module complements the Voices of Australia magazine and audio collection of stories.

Face the Facts: Questions and Answers about Refugees, Migrants and Indigenous People

This education module provides teaching notes, student activities and worksheets, plus a range of recommended on-line resources and further reading, for research, analysis and debate of the issues facing different groups in Australian society.

Activities to celebrate Human Rights Day

In 2007-08, a series of teaching and learning activities for the classroom were developed to help teachers increase students’ understanding of the origin of Human Rights Day. The activities provide a fun way for students to engage in the discussion and visual interpretation of human rights.

See HREOC’s education resources on-line at:

Human Rights Explained fact sheets

In 2007-08, HREOC adapted the on-line Human Rights Explainedresource into a series of fact sheets to assist university students, senior high school students and their teachers to understand human rights.

The Human Rights Explainedfact sheets are an essential information resource about the development of human rights law. They provide background to issues concerning human rights in Australia and in the international arena.

There are a total of eight fact sheets available on the HREOC website at

They are:

  • Defining human rights
  • Human rights origins
  • Human rights philosophies
  • The emergence of rights in law
  • The international bill of rights
  • How States commit to human rights treaties
  • Australia and human rights treaties
  • Promoting and protecting human rights in the UN system.
  • The fact sheets are supported by:
  • Case studies: Complaints about Australia to the Human Rights Committee, and
  • Human rights secondary sources reference list.

Information for students webpage

Information for students is an on-line education resource for secondary school students intended to help them gain an awareness and understanding of human rights; their origin and history, the development of international human rights norms and contemporary human rights issues in Australia.

It is a multi-layered website section that draws students through a range of human rights issues. It includes a ‘plain English’ guide to what human rights are; common questions and answers about human rights; an explanation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and more detailed information on issues such as Indigenous social justice, ‘stolen children’, refugees and asylum seekers, children in immigration detention, sexual harassment and discrimination; and human rights in other countries.

Information for students is also linked to other areas of HREOC’s website that may interest students including:

  • Youth Challenge education modules
  • Voices of Australia education module
  • The Face the Facts publication
  • Bringing Them Home education module
  • Information for Employers resources

The site can be found at

Screen shot from the Info for Students web page
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Information for students is an on-line education
resource for secondary school students,
intended to help them gain an awareness
and understanding of human rights issues

Promotion and distribution of educational resources

The Education Manager promotes HREOC’s resources nationally at conferences, forums and university pre-service lectures. The President and Commissioners often provide keynote addresses to educational conferences.

HREOC regularly promotes its human rights resources by sending postcards, CD-Roms, DVDs and other hard copy education materials to professional teachers associations and schools, together with order forms.

HREOC has also developed partnerships with educational groups and institutions that distribute information and resources to teachers and students.

Usage of on-line educational resources

HREOC’s on-line human rights education resources are widely used by educators, both nationally and internationally. During the 2007-08 financial year, the resources received 939 141 page views.

Table 3: Usage of HREOC on-line human rights education resources
Human Rights Education Resources Page views
Voices of Australia 68 720
Youth Challenge Education Module 87 704
Bringing Them Home Education Module 96 731
Information for Teachers 392 974
Information for Students 116 860
Face the Facts Education Module 34 000
Face the Facts Publication 65 607
Human Rights Explained 44 817
A last resort? Teaching Resources 6 440
A last resort? Summary Guide 25 288

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In 2007-08, a total of 66 058 publications were sent out to 4 692 requests. This is a reduction in the number of publications distributed in 2006-07 and is a reflection of HREOC’s commitment to making more publications available electronically as downloads from the website. These figures do not take into account the number and location of resources distributed by Commissioners and Commission staff as part of consultations, seminars and other public engagements.

The most popular publications were: The Human Rights Commission’s complaint process(4 658), Face the facts(2 555), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Design and Construction for AccessCD-Rom (2 222) and the general Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission brochure (4 085). This illustrates the popularity of CDs as a stand-alone format rather than just an alternative format.

Most HREOC publications can also be downloaded in electronic format from the website. The on-line publications page provides links to lists of publications by subject area, an order form and a list of recent publications.

A list of publications released during 2007-08 can be found at Appendix 2 of this Report.


HREOC publishes material in a wide range of formats to a diverse group of people and communities. In 2008, HREOC produced a poster with complaints information in 16 languages which has been distributed to 3 000 multicultural centres around Australia. In 2007, HREOC produced and distributed a HREOC DVD which has been translated into seven languages.

HREOC has also provided on-line translations of some core publications in various languages, including the general Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission brochure and The Human Rights Commission’s Complaint Processbrochure.


HREOC makes sure that, where possible, resources are published in formats that are accessible to people with disability. Requests for publications in large print, Braille, or audio are referred to the Public Affairs section.

When producing CDs and DVDs, HREOC considers a range of principles regarding accessibility requirements. Public Affairs ensures DVDs have audio description menus and/or captions, and DVD covers are marked to reflect the accessibility features available.

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Each year since 1987, the prestigious Human Rights Medal has recognised individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia. Additionally, seven different award categories recognise and acknowledge outstanding contributions to human rights, social justice and equality made by individuals and organisations in seven specific vocations.

The 20th Human Rights Medal and Awards ceremony was held in the Grand Ballroom at Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park hotel on Friday, 10 December from midday to 3pm.

390 people attended the gala awards ceremony. President von Doussa delivered the annual Human Rights Day Oration, available on-line at 20071210_HumanRightsOration.html Journalist and personality, Julie McCrossin, was the MC.

A photographic exhibition, Land is Life,by award winners, the Northern Land Council, was displayed in the foyer.

The Human Rights Medal winner, award winners and highly commended nominees from a strong field for each of the seven categories were announced at the ceremony.

HREOC congratulates all the winners, highly commended and shortlisted entries for their achievements, and thanks all of those who nominated for their support of the Awards, and their commitment and dedication to promoting human rights in Australia.

Information about the award winners, including audio of acceptance interviews, is available on the HREOC website at

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2.7.1 Human Rights Medal

The Human Rights Medal is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights in Australia.

Winner: Mr Jeremy Jones AM

The Human Rights Medal was awarded to Mr Jones because of his dedication and consistently outstanding achievements in the human rights arena over the last three decades.

Mr Jones is an advocate who has dedicated his life to promoting freedom from racial discrimination, persecution, harassment and freedom of religion. Over his 30 year career Mr Jones has tirelessly undertaken voluntary work within Indigenous, Jewish and Muslim communities as well as other minority groups. His commitment to human rights has seen him travel the world to speak publicly and to meet and work with others opposing racism. He has been the Co-Chair of the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews since 2004, was the Australian delegate to the World Jewish Congress in 2006 and President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry from 2001-2004.

For more than 20 years Mr Jones has provided expert analysis and commentary to the national and international media on racism issues in Australia. In addition, he has given hundreds of lectures to schools, universities, service organisations and other forums, using education as a means of building tolerance.

In 2004, he was awarded the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Medal for his contribution to multiculturalism. In 2005, he was made a member of the Order of Australia. In 2006, he was made an Honorary Life Member of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

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2.7.2 Law Award (Sponsored by the Law Council of Australia)

Winner: Redfern Legal Centre

Redfern Legal Centre, in Sydney, was established in 1977 and has been providing free legal advice, legal services and legal education to disadvantaged people, and the groups who advocate for them, ever since. The centre has also campaigned tirelessly to reduce inequalities and defects in the legal system and the administrative and social practices that impact upon disadvantaged people.

The centre operates on a very limited budget. It relies heavily on volunteer labour and pro-bono assistance from legal professionals to service a heavy caseload and clients that number in the thousands. A very high proportion of the centre’s clients are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities.

One of the centre’s major achievements has been the coordination of the innovative Redfern Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Scheme, which aims to ensure that women seeking a restraining order have access to both legal assistance and to any other support services they may require (such as housing, income support and counselling). The scheme is widely recognised as a successful model for providing women who suffer domestic violence with the support that they need.

Photo of Mr Jeremy Jones AM and Father Chris Riley AM
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Mr Jeremy Jones AM is presented
with the 2007 Human Rights Medal
by the 2006 winner, Father
Chris Riley AM

Much of the centre’s activities are concerned with domestic violence, disability discrimination, racial discrimination and Indigenous issues.

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2.7.3 Community Award (Individual)

Winner: Dr Jamal Rifi

Dr Rifi received this award because of his deeply-felt commitment to achieving practical outcomes for community harmony in a number of different ways, particularly through sport.

Dr Rifi is a GP, an active community volunteer and President of the Lakemba Sports and Recreation Club. Under his Presidency, the club has provided disadvantaged community members with equal opportunity to participate in affordable sporting activities, and membership has grown from 100 members in 2003 to over 600 in 2007. He has seen the club become the base for community meetings (including the women’s group for Islamic studies and fitness and senior citizens social group evenings). He has also mounted innovative projects such as training 22 young Muslim people to become surf lifesavers in the wake of the Cronulla riots.

Dr Rifi has donated his time to many community and government agencies, contributing expertise to advisory committees such as the Youth Partnership with Arabic Speaking Communities and the National Action Plan to Build on Social Cohesion, Harmony and Security. He is also a founding member of Muslim Doctors Against Violence and the Muslim Christian Friendship Society.

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2.7.4 Community Award (Organisation)

Winner: Northern Land Council

The Northern Land Council (NLC) received this award for its hard work and dedication to overcoming Indigenous disadvantage and to achieving outcomes that will enhance the human rights of traditional Aboriginal owners.

THE NLC was established as an independent statutory authority in 1973 to advocate for Aboriginal people of the Top End. It assists Aboriginal people in the northern region of the Territory to acquire and manage their traditional lands and seas. It provides its services to over 40 000 Aboriginal people (70 per cent of NT Indigenous population), and has been at the forefront of many struggles to protect sacred sites as well as economic and political interests.

Photo of the banner 'Land is life'



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The Northern Land Council's
photographic exhibition, Land is Life,
was displayed at the 2007 Human
Rights medal and Awards ceremony



Among its other achievements have been the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project, which won the Australian Museum’s inaugural Eureka Prize for Innovative Solutions to Climate Change; and the Carpentaria Ghost Net Project, which aims to rid the Gulf of lost or abandoned fishing nets. Additionally, during 2006-07, NLC placed 80 Aboriginal people in full-time employment with secure career prospects.

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2.7.5 Radio Award

Winner: Positive Teens produced by Julie Kimberley – ABC Radio National, Life Matters

Positive Teens dealt with the prejudice, secrecy and stigma faced by young HIV positive people who had contracted the virus from their mothers. In exploring what is a sometimes hidden and not well understood issue, the people interviewed talked openly about discovering they were HIV positive, of losing their mothers (and fathers and siblings) to the illness at very young ages, and of having to make decisions about trust and disclosure almost every day – often having to move schools and break friendships in the process to keep their secret safe.

It was considered that, through airing the complex realities of life for these young people, Positive Teenspowerfully educated listeners about the injustices and hardship caused by attitudes that discriminate against those who are different. The candour, bravery and honesty with which the young people concerned told of their deepest feelings was considered a testament, not only to them, but to the interviewing skills of the journalist, Julie Kimberley.

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2.7.6 Print Media Award

Winner: Dead Men Working (series) by Matthew Moore and Malcolm Knox, Sydney Morning Herald

Dead Men Working ran in the Sydney Morning Heraldon 28 and 29 August 2007. It was a special investigation that exposed blatant breaches of the 457 skilled worker visa scheme which allowed employers to sponsor thousands of foreigners to come here to do jobs that Australians cannot or will not do. It delved deeply into the hidden world of exploited guest workers who are too afraid of being sacked or sent home to speak out about abuses to which they were being subjected. The articles focused public attention on the fact that some of the worst of human rights breaches – discrimination, abuse, exploitation and slavery – are actually taking place in our country today.

It was felt that the Human Rights Print Media Award should go to this series because it exemplified the contribution the print media can make to better awareness and protection of human rights in Australia. In writing these articles, the journalists contributed to government action, and an increase in public demand for, the introduction of reforms to the temporary visa system that would better protect the rights of all people coming to Australia.

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2.7.7 Arts Non-Fiction Award

Winner: Alone on the Soaks – The Life and Times of Alec Kruger, by Alec Kruger and Gerard Waterford

Alone on the Soaks – The Life and Times of Alec Kruger is a sweeping story of dispossession, discrimination and disappointment and of pride, determination and triumph. It recounts Mr Kruger’s life story from the time when he became a stolen child, barely surviving, to the position he is in today as a wise and respected man with a large and successful family. The book documents how, as a stolen child, he not only had his family life taken from him, but his language, his culture, his wages, and time and time again, his human rights.

It takes its title from an event early in Mr Kruger’s life when he was left alone in the bush, without supplies, gun or bush skills, to maintain a soak for watering cattle.

Mr Kruger was a key informant of the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report that followed the two-year Royal Commission into the removal of Aboriginal children from their families. He was also among the first people who took their need for recognition further. He did this by testing, in the High Court, the legality of the Aboriginal ordinances that allowed the authorities to remove Aboriginal children throughout the 20th Century.

It was felt that the events of Mr Kruger’s life, as depicted in this memoir, help us to understand not only what has happened over the last 80 years, but also the impact of events on individual Australian communities. It shows that the first step toward achieving social justice is talking about, and listening to, each other’s stories. The second step is recognising that these stories make a difference for others and ultimately to the system itself.

Photo of Mr Alec Kruger
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Mr Alec Kruger is interviewed by MC,
Ms Julie McCrossin about this memoir,
Alone on the Socaks - The Life and
Times of Alec Kruger

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2.7.8 Television Award

Winner: The Circuit, produced by Ross Hutchens and Colin South, Media World Pictures, screened on SBS Television

The Circuit is a six part drama series that follows a magistrate and an entourage of court officers and lawyers on a regular five-day, 2000 kilometre round trip to dispense justice to the remote communities of north Western Australia.

Aaron Perderson plays Drew Ellis, the latest lawyer to join the Kimberley Circuit Court. The challenges he faces include injustices, abuses of power, corruption, gay rights, single parenthood, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse and inter-racial relationships. An Indigenous man from the city, Ellis comes to realise that one law for two cultures does not always equal a fair go.

The Circuit, which screened on SBS Television from 8 July to 12 August 2007, is the first Australian drama series where Indigenous Australians have taken a lead in co-producing, writing, and directing. The production process saw the filmmakers engage with the local community, use Indigenous writers and co-producers and provide cross-cultural training to the cast and crew.

It was felt The Circuitwas worthy of this award because of the way the production remains engaging and educational, while addressing a range of social issues in a nuanced and powerful manner that does not preach to the audience.

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