Welcome to the National Human Rights Online Consultation.
Our National Human Rights Consultation Committee is charged by government with the task of ascertaining the views of the Australian community about which rights and responsibilities matter to us as a society, asking whether these rights and responsibilities are adequately protected and promoted in contemporary Australia and how they might be better protected and promoted.
We have already received more than 13,000 submissions and people turn up in their hundreds to every community roundtable held in the capital cities and by the dozens in remote country outposts.
Many of the participants at our community roundtables are keen to affirm that Australia is one of the best countries in the world to live while, at the same time urging that we could do so much better in showing respect for the dignity of all people in Australia including those most marginalised.
Some invoke household names like Cornelia Rau, Mohamed Haneef, Ahmed al Kateb and David Hicks, urging policy changes to the Northern Territory intervention and to long term immigration detention for asylum seekers arriving on boats without visas. Others speak more personally of the plight of their aged relatives in stretched aged care facilities, their neighbours suffering acute disability or their acquaintance who is homeless.
They all want to be heard, respectfully.
One of the truly heartening aspects of the community consultations has been the respect shown to speakers who hold diametrically opposed views. Can lawyers or the law do more to protect the human rights of these people? Or are their rights and entitlements best protected by more comprehensive social policy committed to social inclusion and more taxpayers funds being available for accountable, transparent service delivery? Some of the strongest pleas at our community consultations have come from citizens disturbed by their forced medication for psychiatric conditions which they dispute.
I hope this online discussion forum will provide another respectful space for people in Australia to conduct a robust dialogue about how we can best protect human rights and promote responsibilities.
Over the coming weeks, my fellow Committee members and I will be on the road conducting community roundtable sessions so please excuse us that we won't be able to reply to your comments and questions personally.
I am grateful to the legal academics who will assist us with providing reasoned occasional commentary on the discussion forum as we go.
The role of the Committee is to present YOUR views to government and we will be following the discussion with great interest.
Our community roundtables are happening until mid June, or, if you'd prefer to make a private submission, you can do so online at http://www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au/ until 15 June 2009. The National Human Rights Online Consultation on Open Forum will run from Tuesday, 19 May until Friday, 26 June 2009, providing an extended opportunity for you to share your views. My fellow committee members and I will be considering your contributions made through Open Forum in preparing our official report to government.
Please follow these links to go to the discussion pages for each of our 3 key consultation questions:
1st KEY CONSULTATION QUESTION: 2nd KEY CONSULTATION QUESTION: 3rd KEY CONSULTATION QUESTION:
Click on this link to go to our discussion page for:
AN AUSTRALIAN BILL OF RIGHTS Debate
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Father Frank Brennan
Chair, National Human Rights Consultation Committee
The comments published below represent a wide range of views and interests of the participating individuals and organisations. Statements made during online discussions are the personal opinions of the commentators and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee or Open Forum.
Open Forum, on behalf of the Attorney-General's Department, at all times and at its absolute discretion, reserves the right to remove offensive comments from the National Human Rights Online Consultation. For your reference, any comments/messages that are offensive for the online consultation would include any or all of the following:
- breach of privacy
- defamatory content
- profane content
- risk of contempt of court
- racial and religious hatred/vilification
- confidentiality concerns