Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities Communique – October 2023

Published 31 October 2023

The Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities (ACHRA) which comprises the State, Territory and Federal human rights and discrimination authorities, met in Sydney on 30 October to consider issues of common concern and interest. On 31 October, State and Territory ACHRA members met to discuss human rights issues relevant to their jurisdictions. The ACHRA members listed at the end of this document endorse the following statements.

Inquiry into Australia’s human rights framework

ACHRA members discussed the Parliamentary Joint Committee for Human Rights inquiry into Australia’s human rights framework. The Council reiterates support for establishing a national Human Rights Framework and a Human Rights Act.

Human rights in youth justice custodial settings

ACHRA is concerned by human rights violations against children in custodial settings and urges governments to consider a national approach to protect human rights in youth detention settings. ACHRA supports establishing a national Taskforce to reform the youth justice system.

First Nations human rights

The Council was joined by Justin Mohamed, Ambassador for First Nations People, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to discuss the Ambassador’s role in leading Commonwealth Government efforts to undertake consultation with First Nations communities, embed indigenous experiences and interests and develop a First Nations Foreign Policy Strategy. ACHRA also discussed the impact of the recent Voice to Parliament referendum on First Nations peoples across Australia and the Council committed to continue its work to improve First Nations human rights.

National disability standards and access to public transport

Addressing disability human rights issues around access to public transport, remains one of ACHRA’s focus areas. ACHRA notes the continued discrimination experienced by disability communities when accessing public transport and discussed this issue in the context of recent complaints data and the Australian Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport. ACHRA will continue advocating for improved access to transport for people with disability.

Australian database of online hate

State and Territory members appreciated guests from NSW Premier’s Department and Deakin University presenting on the Australian Database of Online Hate pilot, multi-jurisdictional initiative with broad national application, coordinated by the Department of Home Affairs. ACHRA hopes the pilot will address data gaps in hate and violent extremism and improve responses to these issues.

Human rights and climate change

Dr Ian Fry, United Nations Special Rapporteur of Climate Change presented to State and Territory members on his mandate to protect human rights in the context of climate change. The Special Rapporteur’s many functions include undertaking country visits, highlighting issues via the media, diplomatic consultations and annual reporting to the United Nations.

LGBTIQA+ human rights

Progressing LGBTIQA+ human rights remains a key area of interest for ACHRA. Anna Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Australia met with State and Territory ACHRA members to discuss current opportunities to improve LGBTIQA+ human rights, including law reform.

2023 ACHRA conference

ACHRA staff participated in the online two-day ACHRA Conference 'Surviving and Supporting Change' across 19 and 20 October 2023. The biannual conference covers human rights, dispute resolution, policy and legal, and education and training. ACHRA First Nations staff came together prior to the conference to discuss interjurisdictional issues and presented to the conference.

For further information, contact the following ACHRA members:

ACT

Dr Penelope Mathew, ACT President and Human Rights Commissioner

Karen Toohey, Discrimination, Health Services, Disability & Community Services Commissioner

02 6205 2222

NSW

Helen McKenzie, President

Mia Zahra, Executive Manager, Anti-Discrimination NSW

02 9268 5514

NT

Jeswynn Yogaratnam, Commissioner, Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission

08 8999 1444

QLD

Scott McDougall, Queensland Human Rights Commissioner

07 3021 9123

SA

Jodeen Carney, South Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioner

08 7322 7070

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

AHRC

Leanne Smith, Chief Executive

02 9284 9740

Last updated:

23 Nov 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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