Queensland human rights advocates have had many reasons to celebrate this year. The QLD Government has made progress on youth justice, LGBTI rights, reproductive rights and more. Most recently the QLD Government announced plans to introduce a Human Rights Act.
Essentially, a Human Rights Act means that the government need to take human rights into account when making all major decisions that could have an impact on human rights.
This is a massive victory for human rights and for those who have been campaigning on this issue for a long time. It’s shameful that Australia is the only Western country not to have a national Human Rights Act. So far it’s been up to states and territories to take the responsibility to protect our rights, but only ACT and Victoria have Human Rights Acts in place.
The push for a Human Rights Act in QLD picked up speed after the 2015 state election. At the end of 2015, a Human Rights Act inquiry launched and Queenslanders were able to voice their views. Several Amnesty International groups wrote their own submissions to the inquiry, while hundreds of other organisations and individuals gave their support.
In Townsville, our Amnesty group convenor Peter Hanley spoke to a panel of State MPs on behalf of Amnesty. He gave testimony about the importance of human rights and why they need to be protected.
Also this year, Amnesty released it’s report on QLD’s youth justice system. To reduce the number of Indigenous kids in prison, we need a Human Rights Act.
This victory is the result of coordinated research, lobbying and activism from many organisations. Queenslanders came together to hold leaders to account and won. There’s still a lot of work to do to make the Act a reality, and Amnesty is ready for the challenge. Stay tuned for how you can help!