About Rights and Freedoms
Scrutiny of human rights by the Parliament | Scrutiny by the courts | Advocacy for improved legislative protection of human rights | Promotion of improved human rights policy and practice | International human rights scrutiny mechanisms | More information
Under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act and Australia's Federal discrimination laws, the Commission has important functions in promoting and protecting the human rights which Australian governments have promised to respect, protect and ensure.
Led by the Human Rights Commissioner, the Rights and Freedoms policy team within the Commission has a co-ordination role for work across all areas of human rights, with a particular focus on issues under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The materials in the Human Rights Scrutiny section of this site are in addition to the work of the Commission in
- dealing with complaints and
- contributing to human rights education.
The Commission also works cooperatively with State and Territory human rights and anti-discrimination agencies.
Scrutiny of human rights by the Parliament
The Commission promotes effective Parliamentary scrutiny of legislation to ensure that legislation is compatible with human rights and promotes and protects human rights, including
- by working with the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and
- through submissions to other Parliamentary Committees on draft legislation and other inquiries
Scrutiny by the courts
See our page on Common law rights and human rights scrutiny for more discussion of the role of the courts in interpreting legislation consistently with human rights and the rule of law wherever possible..
Submissions to courts by the Commission
When court proceedings raise discrimination or other human rights issues the Commission may seek leave of the Court to intervene in the proceedings.
- Commission guidelines on intervention
- Detailed discussion of intervention role
- Summary table of interventions
Advocacy for improved legislative protection of human rights
The Commission supports more comprehensive and effective legislative implementation of Australia's human rights commitments, including
- work towards more effective and comprehensive legislation against discrimination
- advocacy for a Charter of Rights to protect human rights more broadly
In addition to co-operating with the Parliamentary joint committee on human rights, the Commission has a function of examining enactments for compatibility with human rights.
Promotion of improved human rights policy and practice
The Commission promotes implementation of Australia's human rights commitments through improved policy and practice on human rights, including through
- promoting the application of human rights based approaches by all areas and levels of government and by business and other organisations, including development and use of human rights indicators to measure progress
- contributing to the development, implementation and monitoring of the National Human Rights Action Plan
- contributing to other major national strategies such as the National Disability Strategy; the National AntiRacism Strategy and Partnership; the Closing The Gap process and the National Strategy on Violence Against Women
International human rights scrutiny mechanisms
The Commission promotes and contributes to effective engagement, by the Australian Government and by Australian community organisations, with international mechanisms for human rights scrutiny, including
- the Universal Periodic Review process
- Reporting under human rights treaties
- International human rights complaint procedures
Find out more
- See the resources on our Rights and Freedoms web links page.
- Information for students and rightsEd resources for teachers are also available on our site.
- More information on human rights, their origins and the international human rights system is available on our Human Rights Explained fact sheets