Three times people have used Human Rights Acts to challenge injustice and fight for their human rights — and won

Australia is the only liberal democracy in the world without a national Human Rights Act which protects human rights in law.

The good news – we’re closer than we’ve ever been before to enshrining human rights in law for all Australians. Right now, the federal government is conducting an inquiry into its human rights framework as a result of everyday people, communities and experts putting Australia’s lack of human rights protections on their agenda.

It works — Human Rights Acts in action

The following stories are of people at the centre of vastly different injustices who were all able to fight for their human rights. All of them fought. And all of them won.

A single mother in Queensland was threatened with eviction after her violent ex-partner refused to leave their house. She used the state’s Human Rights Act to write a letter of complaint and outlined the human rights that were not considered in her notice for eviction – especially the rights of her children. The Department of Housing withdrew the application for termination and her family were able to keep a roof over their head, and live in safety.

A refugee family in the ACT were being charged up to $10,000, per child, to access an education. When the ACT’s Human Rights Act was amended to include the right to education, those working with refugee and asylum seeker families have been able to ensure education is free for all kids living in the ACT.

A disabled man detained in a Victorian prison was frequently deprived of his aids when being moved from one part of the prison to another. When he spoke to his advocate, together they invoked his right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty – under the Victorian Human Rights Act. As a result, the aids were returned to him.

Queensland, the ACT and Victoria currently all have their own state-based Human Rights Acts. But without a federal Human Rights Act, there is nothing enshrined in law that protects the rights of everyone in Australia.

We need your help — act now to support a national Human Rights Act for the protection of your rights

Right now, the government is conducting an inquiry into Australia’s human rights framework as a result of the combined voices of individuals, community groups, civil society organisations and various experts.

This inquiry is crucial because it’s considering whether the Parliament should legislate a Human Rights Act, and protect our rights in federal law. Submissions to an inquiry make clear to governments that there is a groundswell of support for an issue — they pressure governments to act.

That’s why we need as many submissions to the inquiry as possible, before it closes on June 30 — it’s time to put power back in the hands of the people, by guaranteeing our right to housing, healthcare, education, and more.

As a global movement of 10 million people, and 500,000 people in Australia, Amnesty International has the people power to stand up, speak out, and challenge injustice. Together, we can build public support for a Human Rights Act.

Learn more about what are human rights and our Human Rights Act campaign work.

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