ALHR Submission: QLD Human Rights Bill 2018

December 5, 2018

ALHR made a submission to Queensland Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee on the Human Rights Bill 2018.  ALHR welcomes the timely introduction of the Bill and strongly supports this landmark reform. A Queensland Human Rights Act will not only ensure that fundamental human rights of Queenslanders are protected and valued, but it will also assist in building a human rights culture and increasing dialogue on human rights issues and their intersection with the law, policy, and pressing social, cultural and economic issues.

ALHR commends the Queensland Government for introducing a Human Rights Bill which contains many of the important aspects of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, but that also builds upon that model by including select economic, cultural and social rights and an effective dispute resolution mechanism.

ALHR considers that the Queensland Bill proposes the strongest model of human rights protection in Australia to date, however our submission also urged the Government to strengthen the Bill in line with the proposed amendments set out in our submission and recommendations.

ALHR’s recommendations:

  1. That the Committee recommend that the Human Rights Bill 2018 be passed, subject to the following amendments:
    1. the Bill should be amended to provide complainants with the right to commence proceedings in a court or tribunal in cases where the Human Rights Commission is unable to adequately resolve the complaint or dispute;
    2. the Bill should include a standalone cause of action;
    3. judicial remedies, including declarations, injunctions, damages and orders to cease the offending conduct must be available for a breach of the Act; and
    4. the inclusion of the right to education is strongly supported, but amendment is required to ensure this right is provided without discrimination and in a way that requires inclusive education;
    5. clause 15 of the Bill should be extended to include the right to equal and effective access and adjustments, which incorporates the provision of reasonable adjustments, to ensure equitable access to justice;
    6. clause 33 of the Bill should be amended to comply with Article 37(c) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and require that convicted children are segregated from adult prisoners;
    7. clause 126 of the Bill should be omitted as it is neither appropriate nor necessary;
    8. the right to freedom of expression should be amended to clarify that this right involves responsibilities;
    9. amendment of Clauses 95 and 96 to require that reviews of the Act are carried out at three-yearly cycles.
  2. The Queensland Government must ensure adequate resources are committed to implementation and realisation of the Queensland Human Rights Act.