Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities Communique – April 2022

Published 29 April 2022

The Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities (ACHRA) which comprises the State, Territory and Federal human rights and discrimination authorities, met via videoconference on 28 and 29 April 2022 to consider a number of issues of common concern and interest. The ACHRA members listed at the bottom of this document endorse the following statements.

COVID-19 human rights and discrimination impacts

ACHRA continues to explore the significant human rights and discrimination issues resulting from the pandemic through its COVID-19 Human Rights Working Group. Of particular concern is the dramatic increase in enquiries and complaints regarding mask mandates and exemptions, vaccine misinformation, mandates and exemptions, and interstate and international travel restrictions.

As Australia moves into a post-pandemic environment, ACHRA reflected on the value and contribution of its collective work in supporting State, Territory and Federal Governments. It is vital that Australian human rights authorities are fully supported with sustainable resourcing to respond to the large COVID-19 backlog and to fully realise our shared goal to promote and protect the human rights of all Australians.

Sexual harassment and gender equality

ACHRA continues to endorse and support the implementation of recommendations from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work report through the Respect@Work Council, led by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins. In line with this, ACHRA notes that many jurisdictions across Australia are conducting their own independent reviews into workplace equality, harassment and bullying.

Human rights in closed environments

The mistreatment of people in detention remains a key focus area for ACHRA, and members are committed to resolving human rights matters in prisons and custodial settings. In light of this, the Australian Human Rights Commission is working with the Australian Government to meet global benchmarks set out through the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) treaty.

Matters affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

The need to embed First Nations gender justice and equality also remains front of mind for ACHRA, with native title reform and the growing First Nations incarcerations crisis as key areas of focus. ACHRA continues to support the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Project, which recently received $2.8 million from the Australian Government to fund innovative First Nations women- and girl-led initiatives across a wide range of sectors. View the 

Vilification reforms

ACHRA has observed that there are varying anti-vilification protections across Australian jurisdictions and will consider them as a focus area in its future work program.

More informaton

For further information contact the following ACHRA members: 

ACT

Karen Toohey, ACT Discrimination Commissioner
(02) 6205 2222

NSW

Mia Zahra, Executive Manager, Anti-Discrimination NSW
0473 804 482

NT

Sally Sievers, Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner
(08) 8999 1469

QLD

Scott McDougall, Queensland Human Rights Commissioner
(07) 3021 9123

SA

Jodeen Carney, South Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioner
(08) 8207 2235

TAS

Sarah Bolt, Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner
(03) 6165 7515

VIC

Ro Allen (ACHRA Chair), Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner
0437 084 175

WA

Dr John Byrne, Western Australian Commissioner for Equal Opportunity
(08) 9216 3900

Last updated:

04 Apr 2023

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We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the ongoing connection Aboriginal people have to this land and recognise Aboriginal people as the original custodians of this land.

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