Government must take historic opportunity and adopt Human Rights Act after inquiry recommendation


A coalition of 104 civil society organisations have welcomed the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights call for an Australian Human Rights Act as an important step forward towards a fairer, more compassionate Australia.

Chaired by Josh Burns, Labor MP for McNamara, the inquiry into Australia’s human rights framework recommended that the Albanese Government and Federal Parliament ensure everyone can benefit from having human rights at the heart of government decision making through a Human Rights Act.

Australia is the only western liberal democracy without a legislated Human Rights Act or similar in our laws. A Human Rights Act will mean governments must consider people’s human rights when creating new laws and policies, and delivering services – like aged care, Medicare, disability services, and education funding. A Human Rights Act would provide a basic safeguard so people could also take action and seek justice if their rights are violated.

There is widespread support in the Australian community for a Human Rights Act. Recent polling shows around three in four Australians support a Human Rights Act, compared to only 3% opposed.

Quotes attributed to Sam Klintworth, Amnesty International Australia, National Director:
“We applaud the Committee’s endorsement of a Human Rights Act, recognising the failures of Australia’s current protections that leave victims without recourse to address human rights abuses. Implementing a Human Rights Act will provide federal legal protections and empower people to challenge abuses. Amnesty International’s polling shows strong support, with 3 in 4 Australians supporting this initiative. Thousands of Amnesty supporters actively participated in the Committee’s inquiry, voicing their endorsement. With a Human Rights Act people can create better lives for themselves and their communities. We urge the Albanese government to heed the Committee’s recommendation and enact this vital legislation.”

Quotes attributed to Caitlin Reiger, Human Rights Law Centre, CEO:
“An Australian Human Rights Act will ensure that the values we share – fairness, respect, freedom and justice – are at the heart of all government decisions, laws and policies. Everyone should be able to enjoy their human rights regardless of their postcode or bank balance. In this country every child should be able to have a great education, everyone should have access to quality health care, and all public services should respect people’s dignity and privacy. The Australian community and parliamentary inquiry have called for an Australian Human Rights Act, now it is time for the Albanese Government to act and create a fairer future for every person.”

Quotes attributed to Dr Cassandra Goldie, Australian Council of Social Services, CEO:
“Robodebt highlighted just how vulnerable we are to government abuses of power without adequate human rights protections in place. We need a Human Rights Act that provides protections for people against human rights abuses and builds a culture of respect for basic rights for all. It will be vital to include economic and social rights in the Act.”

Quotes attributed to Angus McFarland, Australian Services Union NSW and ACT Branch Secretary:
“It’s critical that Australia has appropriate frameworks in place to protect and acknowledge human rights. For our modern democracy, a Human Rights Act is long overdue.”

Quotes attributed to Reverend Lindsay Cullen, Uniting Church of Australia Assembly, General Secretary (Interim):
“The Uniting Church believes that all human rights are important, interdependent and interrelated. They must be carefully considered, so that positive rights to practice faith or maintain personal beliefs are balanced with the right of people not to be discriminated against. For decades the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly has advocated for the holistic approach of a Human Rights Act as an answer to the many competing claims and values inherent in the discussion about human rights. We believe a Human Rights Act is the best approach to give protection in law and accountability when rights are breached, as well as playing a role in educating the Australian community.”

Quotes attributed to Carlo Carli, Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia, Chair:
“FECCA strongly supports the introduction of a Human Rights Act in Australia. This Act is essential for guaranteeing equal rights and protections for all, regardless of background. Currently, human rights protections in Australia are inconsistent. A Human Rights Act will ensure robust, uniform safeguards for multicultural communities, promoting equality and freedom from discrimination. We commend the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights for their recommendation and are committed to working with our sector partners to make this Act a reality. This is a crucial step towards a more inclusive and fair Australia.”

The recommendation in support of a Human Rights Act was made by Labor members, as well as Independent MP Kylea Tink and Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe, after the overwhelming majority of submissions to the inquiry supported a Human Rights Act.

The campaign for an Australian Human Rights Act is made up of 103 civil society organisations which represent a broad diversity of people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people with a disability, women, children, older persons, LGBTIQ+ people, and people from migrant and refugee communities.