Government Releases National Human Rights Report
12 October 2009 at 3:36 pm
The Federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, has released the report of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee that finds overwhelmingly, Australians support the protection of human rights but more is needed to ensure this happens.
In December 2008 the Rudd Government asked the Committee to conduct a nationwide Consultation to examine the protection and promotion of human rights and responsibilities in Australia.
The Committee is said to have conducted the most extensive consultation on human rights issues in Australia’s history, receiving more than 35,000 submissions and conducting over 65 community roundtables and public hearings across more than 50 urban, regional and remote locations.
The report contains 31 recommendations as well as options for addressing the areas where Australia can do better.
The report highlights that the key debate is not about whether we protect human rights but about how we protect human rights.
The Government says the Consultation has demonstrated that there are many views on how human rights and responsibilities should be protected, promoted and realised, including on the merits of a Human Rights Act.
The report recommends a number of ways to protect and promote human rights including through enhanced education and improved parliamentary scrutiny.
The Committee found a lack of understanding among Australians of what human rights are and that support for an improved human rights culture was strong. Many submissions referred to the need for greater human rights education or the development of a human rights ethos in the community.
The Committee also recommends that the Federal Government conduct an audit of all Federal legislation, policies and practices to determine their compliance with Australia’s international human rights obligations, regardless of whether a Federal Human Rights Act is introduced. The government should then amend legislation, policies and practices as required, so that they become compliant.
The Australian Government says it will carefully consider the Committee’s report and outline its response in the coming months.
The report is available online at www.ag.gov.au or at www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au