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The Human Rights of Rural Australians

Rights Rights and Freedoms
Rural human rights

The Human Rights of Rural Australians



Every person in Australia, regardless of who they are or where they live, is entitled to respect for and protection of their human rights. People living in remote, rural and regional Australia often find it harder to fully enjoy their human rights because of their location.

For example, living in a rural, regional or remote area of Australia may impact on a person’s enjoyment of the following human rights:

  • the right to education (ICESCR, article 13; CRC, article 28)
  • the right to the highest attainable standard of health (ICESCR, article 12)
  • the right to an adequate standard of living (ICESCR, article 11)
  • the right to vote (ICCPR, article 25).

Conditions such as distance and remoteness, climate and weather, and the uncertainties of the rural economy can inhibit the ability of people in regional areas to access goods, services and opportunities. Regional communities require specific assistance and services to overcome these barriers.

Specific human rights issues currently faced by people living in rural and regional Australia include:

  • access to, and quality of, education
  • access to mental and other health services
  • how to overcome Indigenous disadvantage (for more information see the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice page)
  • how to manage the effects of climate change
  • access to communication services.

Past projects and publications


The Human Rights of Rural Australians, Occasional Paper, May 1996

In May 1996, the Human Rights Commissioner released The Human Rights of Rural Australians, an Occasional Paper which discusses some of the disadvantages faced by Australians living in rural areas and how these impact on enjoyment of their human rights. The Paper looks as a range of issues including the right to work and unemployment, the right to health and access to health care, and particular issues facing Indigenous people, young people, elderly people, and people suffering from mental illness.

Bush Talks (1998)

In 1998, the Commission undertook a series of consultations, called Bush Talks, with members of the public in a number of rural and remote locations around Australia. The aim was to identify the major human rights issues confronting people living beyond the main population centres and to inform people about human rights.

Rural and Remote Education Inquiry (1999)

The National Inquiry into Rural and Remote Education was initiated by the Commission in February 1999, following concerns about difficulties in accessing education of an appropriate standard and quality which were raised by people living in rural and remote Australia during the 1998 Bush Talks consultations.

Rural Health: Healthy Community Projects (2000)

During the Bush Talks consultations, inadequate, inaccessible and diminishing health services emerged as one of the principal human rights concerns of Australians living in remote, rural and regional Australia. Healthy Community Projects provides information about some examples of positive health initiatives in remote, rural and regional Australia.