How could Australia better protect and promote human rights and responsibilities?

| May 19, 2009
NHROC logo

When it comes to human rights, there is always room for improvement.

As Australians, we are fortunate to live in a country where freedom and democracy are valued. That said, however, there are a number of areas where we can work to strengthen and protect human rights within Australia and help improve awareness of these rights within the community.

NHROC logoIf you think that no major changes are needed – please tell us.

If you think we do need change, a few discussion points are set out below which have generated a lot of valuable feedback throughout the Consultation process.

Which human rights should be better protected or promoted?

Do you think that particular groups need special protections?

What should you be able to do if you think your human rights have been breached?

Do we need a new Commonwealth law to protect human rights?

Should the Australian Human Rights Commission be given greater powers to protect and promote our human rights?

Should our human rights be considered more formally by the Government when they are making laws?

Do we need better ways to ensure that the Government and its agencies respect our human rights?

What do you think the role of the Courts should be in the protection of our human rights?

Many people have chosen to discuss how human rights are protected and promoted overseas. Legislative changes made in the United Kingdom and Canada over recent years have been the subject of much discussion.

Questions about human rights in our international relations have also been raised.

There seems to be a consensus that when it comes to human rights there is always room for improvement. But, opinions about how to go about that differ greatly. 

So, where to next? How, in practical terms do we improve lives and build a more just society?

The Committee will be interested to hear your views, so that we can represent your views in our final report to the Australian Government.

The National Human Rights Online Consultation closes on Friday 26 June 2009.

Come on… share your views!

Father Frank Brennan
Chair, National Human Rights Consultation Committee


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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
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  1. The Chartist

    May 19, 2009 at 4:28 am

    Rights … & responsibilities

    Modern representative democracy is a wonderful "accident" of history (it's origins dating from around the time of the English civil war in the 1640's, through the time of Cromwell's "Commonwealth" and up to it's first real budding with the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 — when Parliament essentially "sacked" the reigning monarch and hired a new one!)

    With exquisite symbolism, such as the "two broad swords" which separate Her Majesty's loyal Government from Her Majesty's loyal Opposition in the House of Commons, our modern parliamentary representative democracy has continued to evolve & flourish. Often far too slowly for many, but evolve & flourish it has!

    Prime Minister Earl Grey's "Reform Act 1832" really got the ball rolling, when all men who owned property worth over ten pounds were given the vote. This was a RADICAL reform of the system (check your history books to see what it took to get it through the House of Lords!) It increased the franchise by around 50%! (from about 5% of the population to about 7.5%)

    1832 was of course the middle of "Dickensian England", with all sorts of wonders & grief associated with the "Industrial Revolution" (think: 'dark satanic mills')

    In 1838, The London Working Men's association put forward The People's Charter, which called for six radical reforms to the British political system of the day, viz:

    • Suffrage for all men age 21 and over
    • Equal-sized electoral districts
    • Voting by secret ballot
    • An end to the need for a property qualification for Parliament
    • Pay for Members of Parliament
    • Annual election of Parliament

    Please note that Australia was a world leader in the first five reforms. Secret ballot is still known in many parts of the world as the "Australian ballot"!

    I am strongly opposed to any "Bill of Rights" and believe Australia could "better protect and promote human rights and responsibilities" through annual general elections (at every level of government)

    I am happy to enter into further discussion about this very important reform.

    Regards, David from Perth, Western Australia

    Annual General Elections will be the new world religion – of peace in diversity.

    • Bayne MacGregor

      May 19, 2009 at 5:01 pm

      What about unpopular minorities?

      One of the purposes of all bills of rights has been to limit the power of the state and the power of the majority from being able to impose too far ove the individual. Giving an avenue of protection of minorities from 'the tyranny of the majority'.

      Unpopular minorities will not benefit from annual elections. They will be every bit as vulnerable if not moreso to racism, xenophobia or the like.

      There may or may not be a benefit to annual elections as well as having a bill of rights, but i see no human rights gain from them without one to protect the unpopular.

  2. Bayne MacGregor

    May 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Charter, Comittee, Courts, Education

    The ways Australia could better protect Human Rights in my view would be as follows:

    An Advisary Charter clearly stating the principles of Human Rights which should be protected

    A comittee to review all new legislation as well as any old legislation brought to their attention for compliance with the principles of the charter.

    The courts to be instructed that regular interpretation of the law should be based on the charter where appropriate and when the law is inconsistent with the charter that it should be brought to the comittee's attention.

    Education. Human Rights and their History as well as the Charter itself to be an essential part of the curiculum nationwide. A public education campain to educate the rest of the population so everyone understands their rights and the rights of others they must respect.

  3. Fr Frank Brennan

    May 21, 2009 at 6:58 am

    I’m interested to hear about…

    I'm interested to hear about the idea of:

    "A committee to review all new legislation as well as any old legislation brought to their attention for compliance with the principles of the charter."

    Should such a committee be Parliamentary or should it be made up of retired judges or academics, for example? Should such a committee be able to make proposals to amend new legislation? What should Parliament be required to do if such a committee declares or reports that the proposed legislation is not consistent with human rights? Do you think that our current Senate Scrutiny of Bills Committee could perform this function or are you thinking of a new committee?

    Father Frank Brennan
    National Human Rights Consultation Committee

    • Bayne MacGregor

      May 22, 2009 at 5:15 am

      Comittee thoughts

      Well certainly such a comitee's members would need the following qualifications amongst their number.

      Understanding of Human Rights Principles. Understanding of legislation. Understanding of the legislative process.

      A mixture of judges, politicians and human-rights experts would seem to me a good mix. Judges would have a good understanding of running hearings and finding judgements as well as the current law. Politicians would be good with the processes and effects both intended and unintended of the legislation and human rights experts to inform the rest on the principle behind the wording of the right, not just its letter in drafting.

      Alternately current comittee's may function, however they would need training. A crash course in human rights history and human-rights philosophy as well as bias-reducing training and expert advice/guidance.

      Without this pre-existing biases are too likely to remain.. as has been seen in countries where flagrant irrational and unjustifiable human rights abuses remained for many years such as slavery, racial segregation, inequality for women, homosexuals, transgender, less popular religious faiths and the like. All because either the letter of the right was considered more important than its meaning (such as all 'men' are created equal used to deny women equal rights for example) or because biases were not faced honestly or decisions not made on principle because of unpopularity of the group/s involved or because the cost of fairness was deemed more important than the fair treatment of the dissadvantaged (such as with the disabled).

      At any rate committee members or the comittee taken as a whole, need to understand human rights principles, the laws and processes concerned and have the independance to be able to make unpopular decisions.

       Finally when legislation is found not to be consistent with human rights if new legislation it should automatically be sent for redrafting to correct the problem. When old it should automatically be placed into a swift reform process to be corrected. Only in the most dire of circumstances if ever should inconsistent legislation be allowed to pass.

      The need for practical equality, by enabling the redress of existing inequality is an important part of this as otherwise the capapcity for goverment to help the most disadvantaged by providing them additional resources or assitance or affirmative action would be unfairly curtailed by on-paper equality resulting in real-life entrenchment of inequality. that is something that must be handled very carefully though.

      • Craig.Hendry

        May 22, 2009 at 10:29 pm

        new coat of paint?
        While a committee formed to examine all new laws, and policies sounds like a good idea, I don't think it would get too far of the ground as far as realising its goals mainly because it appears, to me at least, to be shifting the locus of control and power from parliament.  Having said that I can easily imagine that parliament may very well say to any suggested committees that they will not consider any suggestion which challenges the "sovereignty of parliament", as they have done with the so called human rights round table "consultation".  A committee formed to scrutinise bills will do this.  I strongly support a bill of rights because it represents something that exists tangibly that the people have a recourse to if/when neccessary, as opposed to leaving it all to yet another group of individuals to argue their case.  Attempts to reinvent the wheel seem to me to be more of an acknowlegement that the government will not allow itself to be restrained by the many already existing human rights documents like:

      • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
      • Int'l Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
      • Int'l Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
      • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
      • Int'l Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
      •  Any one of these legislated into place would do Australia a world of good.  Let the legislative councils/upper houses do their job and represent the people using such directives.  If the government is able to argue that the upper house of parliament has become a "house of obstruction", how much more do you think they will be able to argue against a unelected committee which, to me, seems like a shadow government with a new coat of paint.

  • Hansel

    June 14, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    A committee to review legislative compliance?
    All legislation should go through parliament for ultimate sign off.  There should be no power of veto for a committee in relation to legislation that they believe may be inconsistent with the wishes of parliament – after all, the parliament are the elected representatives of the people.  Too often, decisions are made by the judiciary that have significant ramifications for managing the way the principles are enacted in society (far reaching consequences that the majority may not agree with).  However, as the judiciary are non-elected officials, there is little that the public can do with the decision other than accept it.  At least with parliamentary signoff, the elected members will need to act on behalf of their constituents.  If a majority of their constitutents are unhappy with their decisions / representation, then they are accountable at a ballot box.  The committe proposed would have no such accountability.

    • Bayne MacGregor

      June 14, 2009 at 3:05 pm

      What about when the majority and representatives do wrongs?

      Seriously plenty of injustices have been popular.

      Racism, sexism.. these have had either majority support in the past or enough of a minority presence that injusttices were done as a trade-off for those groups support on other votes.

      These days this is seen with heterosexism (anti-gay) and Cissexism (anti-transgender)

      The possibility that the majority may wish to do wrongs upon minorities and individuals was an understood menace to principles of fairness and equality at the outbreak of the modern democracy movement!

      That why France developed a bill of rights! It's why America did. Centuries ago.

      Democracy is not by itself sufficient! And the sufferings of minority groups whose human rights are directly abused by law or are abused by falling between gaps in law complained about and disregarded for decades in this country prove this!

       Popular human rights abuses remain human rights abuses, popular injustices remain injustices! Just because someone belongs to an unpopular or less popular group doesn't mean its ok to treat them unfairly!

      And Australia has enough injustices, enough human rights abuses that have been voted through parliament to show that your proposal will only allow lots of wrongs against peoples human rights!

      Fairness and equality are not determined by popularity!

      Taking away the majorities virtually limitless power to stomp on the rights of powerless minorities will not remove majority rule! It will merely stop majority abuses!

  • Bayne MacGregor

    June 16, 2009 at 4:39 am

    Where’s the ACL and their backers here?

    Listening to the Australian Christian Lobby's comments on ABC Radio National they claim to have been wanting to be involved in improving human rights in Australia but were oppossed to a charter of rights and instead want to discuss alternate means of improving human rights.

    Well this is the section for that is it not?

    Where are they then?

    Please ACL, do give us Alternatives!

    For one I'd like to hear how they'd propose improving the human rights of:

    Transgender people

    Intersex people, especially children

    Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals

    Subculture groups like Goth and Emo

    Non-Christian Faiths from Bhuddism to Wicca to Islam


    Disabled people

    Indiginous peoples, especially on Cultural Rights issues

    Mothers whose Children were taken, not just the Aboriginal Stolen Generation but those White mothers who were forced and coerced into surrendering their children

    All these groups suffer (or have suffered in their lifetimes with continuing effects) Human Rights absues.

    So I'd like to know what genuine effective alternatives exist to Reduce these attrocious harms to these people other than a charter of rights. And I'd like to see shown how they are comparable in effective result or superior for these people!

    So ACL and others who feel similar about a charter of rights. Give us all your better option! Your better alternative!

  • Brett Paatsch

    June 26, 2009 at 1:52 am

    In a model where Parliamentary Sovereignty is kept

    the committee should NOT be of parliamentarians. The committee would serve a sentinel function for those things which, parliamentarians who usually with party affiliations and always with the bias of needing to be re-elected won't always take the longer term view over the shorter term expedient, overlook or set aside.

    The Scrutiny of Bills Committees are not sufficient. The Senate as a house of review is not sufficient. Adding more parliamentarians to the six or so would not be enough. Too much law is made often in haste – and sometimes in the form of statuatory regulations and dissallowable instruments for the Scrutiny of Bills Committee to be across.

    And, I repeat, Parliamentarians by dent of being elected for periods of three years or so, are naturally biased to the shorter term expedient over the longer term in which core rights need to be maintained. 

    Let the committee's sentinel function be acknowledged – it wouldn't dictate to parliament but would add a layer of alerting and advising to parliament of infringements of rights by parliament or its members using their delegated authorities. 

    Whether the committee is made up of judges doesn't matter as much as that it is made up of capable people able to enjoy a high degree of independence from the government of the day so as to give opinions on rights infringements without fear or favor. 

    I know that Michael Tate has warned about this sort of committee, that it would inevitably lead to a sort of American-style selecting of judges where the suitability of candidates is poured over. I think that is a price well worth paying for the sentinel function.

  • Fr Frank Brennan

    May 27, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Resolving disputes about rights

    The discussion on the forum this week about how legislation might be scrutinised for compliance with human rights has been very interesting. Scrutiny could help to ensure that human rights protections are incorporated into legislation. But what happens when human rights are breached? In particular, what do you think the role of the courts should be in the protection of our human rights? Are there other institutions, such as the Australian Human Rights Commission, which have a role to play in resolving disputes about rights?

    Father Frank Brennan
    National Human Rights Consultation Committee

    • Bayne MacGregor

      June 1, 2009 at 3:52 pm

      Some efective way to have issues heard needs to exist

      Certainly there needs to be some means where a person whose rights have been abused can have the situation change. A way for someone to have their issues heard and fairly evaluated.

      I expect our court system could indeed handle the workload, after all we are not the first democratic country to consider such a charter but in fact pretty much the last of the modern democracies to get one. Other countries manage to handle them.

      But we could have that on a trial basis. If the courts clog up we could evolve the way we handle rights hearings and try another process.

      If we have a Human Rights legislative review comittee there needs to be ways ordinary people can call for existing legislation to be reviewed for inconsistency with Human Rights. This would need to be handled in a fair manner, rather than putting the most popular politic or expediant issues first and delaying or rejecting controvertial or inconveniant ones.

      There especially needs to be some way to ensure that there is some equitability in legal advice and representation for such cases if done through courts, after all the poor, homeless, jobless and powerless are most likely to need human rights protection and least able to afford the most experienced and skilled lawyers.

  • brian

    May 28, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Existing rights are useless as they are not enforced

    Articles 12 & 25 of the human rights charter are totally ignored by Governments whom are bound to them, and the human rights commission clearly states this frustration, so how can any of this, or us, enforce enactment?

    Where are the international law courts?

    Also Disability rights were recently signed but also ingnored in application, a rights charter or a words charter of hot air making fools of people.

    People with disabilities in danger require urgent assistence

    the homeless require urgent assistance, but what do they get? they lose rent assistance, no state crisis housing exists, and rents and boarding too dear, and 9 years public housing wait.

    sleep where ? in freezing cold no roof in contravention of article 12 & 25 right to be housed and have core sanitary needs and health needs and die of heat exposure as i almost did on firestorm day, or of pneumonia in winter, & did the man found dead on a train die of that.

    Where do they shower when nude Bathing is illegal, where do they toilet whilst Govt has closed most public obligation toilets and fuel stations rightly did same to avert the overload, and all closed at night risking prosecution for indecent exposure but where does one excreet at night with all toilets closed, where is the health regulation right to water? illegal to steal from others taps, where do they dump rubbish when illegal to dump in others bins and public bins made so big bags cant fit, where is their health and hiegene rights to shower, why do they get fined for failing to change license address because PO boxes are not accepted, where is their stove or get poor diet on takeaway, or in cars how does their back tolerate months of such damaging bedding.


    I am shamefully an A.L.P. member trying to fight for the homeless, I AM ALSO HOMELESS, have been for 5 months on DSP living in danger, finding the Govt state system is a scam and very very inactive.

    If anyone is homeless feel free to contact me to see what informations i can offer beyond the usual.

    These are core essential rights above most issues people fight for rights upon, and these people are now middle class and families and persons with pets, it is all hidden and hushed up.

    LETS FIGHT ON THESE RIGHTS as I have committed myself to represent the homeless

    • brian

      June 10, 2009 at 3:55 am

      System failing

      It was reported in the herald sun newspaper pge 13 on june 8th 09 Homeless man threw rock through police window so as he can get arrested to stay in far more luxurious prison end quote This is what I predicted on my website at  

      Sincerely BRIAN WOODS


    June 2, 2009 at 6:11 am

    Human Rights v. Science of Economy

    Am I wrong in believing that

     – when we speak of human rights we assume that Australian Governments have a responsibility to protect human rights of the people of Australia as a priiority over increasing economic prosperity. 

    Our governments, however, continue to breach human rights obligations to Indigenous Australians, minority groups and refugees.  They claim that the lessons of the economic model indicate that by imposing the economic model the human rights of minorities will improve even as they are summarily locked away, denied rights to traditional and cultural lifestyle, and are compulsory dispossessed. 

    This is the complete antithesis of human rights that further undermine the validity of all minority rights. 

    Even with so much 'academic' insight available, the screeds of past government reports, Royal Commissions and United Nations Report cards it appears they have either a theoretical and physical disability to understand, or an inherent unwillingness to deliver their commitment to the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights they helped to create.

    The Federal Government must urgently prioritise to reject practices that breach human rights and elect to uphold human rights which it claims to aspire to.

    Jose Nemorin


  • fcuran

    June 4, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Basic Human Rights for all Australians

    Basic Human Rights should be uniformally applied to all Australians equally.

    There is NO room for local, state Government, in our basic human rights or in how these laws should be interrupted or applied.

    A fair system for all Australians is an independant "Ägency"/Commission free of any government involvement, to  ensure fairness/compassion/protection of basic rights relating to health and welfare is maintained.   Privacy issues at present are violated on a daily basis by varying government agencies this is a practice which must cease.

    Each day more and more restrictions are placed on what we as individuals can do, how we can act, what we can say, how we can live.

    Those with disabilities and their carers need more rights and less government interference to enable sufferes to fulfil a normality of life.

    One must is that every Australian should have a safe sancturary, from political abuse, the Castle Doctrine is a must, please ensure this principle is upheld in the future and restore just one simply human right for all Australians.

  • fcuran

    June 5, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Castle Doctrine

    I am not sure where to start or who to talk to regarding a situation that happened to me last week.  In a nut shell here goes:

    I suffered a reactive mental injury whilst employed in a Commonwealth Governemnt Semi instrumentality, which has left me severely traumatised since 1990.  I survive in a "cotton wool"wrapped world where my  my home is my safe haven from the outside world.

    About a fortnight ago a local Council Ranger claimed that he had the right of entry to my safe world at any time that he so chose without my or the owners permission, as the NSW State Government under the animal act provided this loophole.

     This person insisted that I had 88 cats all microchipped, living on premises not lifetime registered.   He has been told on many occasions that these animals do not live here,  and even advised that his continually harrassment was causing detrimental affects on my mental health, safety and well being.  This person refused to accept that this is a valid reason for extreme care and bullied away regardless, quoting that mental illness or injury is not an issued under law.

     So upset at the thought of my safe haven being threatened, contact was made to Port Macquarie Police, they actually did not seem sure of their position but stated that their job was to restrain, obtain a doctor and schedule "mad individuals".  If I was a illegal drug lab (owner), terrorist, or committed some other henous crime, just maybe I could understand this,  but a cat microchip…  A good day for me is cooking a meal and remembering where I cooked it and actually getting to eat it, or actually finding the frozen vegies in the freezer and not the washing machine,  life is hard but in my safe little world I can surive and have some good days unfortunately these at present do not exist, now it is straight out panic at the shopping centre, not knowing where the next blow is coming from,  unable to sleep in my bedroom, as this is where I was when woken up, but worst still is that life no longer seems worthwhile or safe.

    As new laws and regulations will be getting looked at in the human rights agenda, in the near future I am pleeding that someone may be able to put forward the importance of the Castle Doctrine…..My home is my castle, my castle is my home and that it should remain a safe place for all Australians and even the world as a whole.  A judge and only a judge should be able to  execute a search warrant on evidence presented to overrule this much respected 17th century doctrine.

    All people who suffer a disability or injury must be respected, the mere fact that some of us can not easily do what an abled bodied individual can, does not make us second rate citizens nor less worthy.  So what if we do silly things,  that is OK, we do survie and can be happy in our safe haven we are not monsters or aliens and we should not be treated as such.

    The government once put significant funds into an advertising campaign, the impact on how much we can suffer is dependant on the attitudes of those around us.  This is true, unfortunately they did not educate their own staffs, or those of Local, State and Federal instrumentalities.

    I may not be here for long,  but someone out there can ensure a fairer deal/outcome for those less fortunate.   Please protect the most vulnerable within our society.


    • sally.rose

      June 5, 2009 at 11:07 am

      Human Rights Commission

      Dear fcuran

      If you feel you have had your human rights abused and you don't know who can help you, a good place to start looking for advice about seeking help is the human rights commission. I'm not sure what state or territory you live in but the federal human rights commission's website is and their telephone number during business hours is (02) 9284 9600

      Best Regards

      Sally Rose

  • brian

    June 10, 2009 at 3:51 am

    Practical Questions for Human Rights of Homeless

    I feel many people dont listen if talking to homeless, however, more effective is to ask them to think and answer questions via placing themselves in homeless situations shoes. 

    Questions to politicians & human rights delegates of the online commissions forum

    TOPIC: The most widespread ACTUAL human rights breach on a daily baisis ongoing. {HOMELESSNESS}  

    May I ask all abovementioned participants, and, the broader community, to participate, respond/reply to the following questions via placing yourself ficticiously in those positions, and I can assure anyone, that they shall much prefer being called a black or white so and so, rather than be homeless daily and indefinitely.  

    HERE IS THE BASIS: Your homeless, your company folded, your loans failed leaving you bankrupt, can happen to anyone tommorrow, No car, can't afford rent so booted out of rental, worked all your life, had kids, not a drug user, well respected but suddenly homeless during a severe housing shortage crisis ans massively increased rents.  

    Q1) When your tossed out and cant find a rental and unaware as yet of secret bidding, where do you go if you don't want anyone to know or know nobody locally, and don't want people worrying over you, where do you go? where do you stay?  

    Q2) Where do you stay on freezing nights, and what if you cant tolerate it? or, like last month an elder male on first train to city probably slept in freezing parked train, found dead by passengers thinking he was asleep, was it homeless pneumonia, most likely  

    Q3) Staying on the streets, is it safe? will you get bashed or robbed during the night whilst trying to sleep? can you sleep? how will you keep warm and comfortable without pillow / blankets or matress ? how will all this make you feel mentally whilst looking indefinite and ongoing? will you be cursing persons whom say human rights exist? where are those rights ? who is enforcing those rights ? im told they are rights but nobody to enforce them, so who can ? WILL YOU BE SAYING THE SYSTEM IS ALL WRONG and that things shouldnt have bec ome how they are?  

    Q4) What will you then think of criminal prisoners whilst your not one, as to how you only have the clothes your wearing, and they have clothes, free washing free food and proper cooking, TV, videos, pool tables, gym, swimming pool, showers, toilets, water, electricity and lighting and heaters, whilst you, an innocent taxpayer via State housing policy neglect only have clothes. And why must the Govt not like you as much as prisoners ? and what do you think about them getting housing priority over you when they are released?  

    Q5) Would you think whilst in housing shortage via Govt neglects, that recent decisions of hundereds of $millions to be spent updating and also building new sports stadiums moreso where one is already there locally, a cost which itself could house all homeless ? again does it not look like Govt hate homeless persons?  

    Q6) It's night, you need a toilet for duel reasons, but Govt public toilets are all closed at night, although human and health rights to be open 24hr, cost cutting illegally sees them closed and then urinary wards start getting overloaded from persons holding in urne causing damages, and fuel stations closed theirs in protest of the load being placed on them to do state obligated duty, SO, WHERE DO YOU GO TO THE TOILET FOR BOTH REASONS ? AND WHAT DO YOU USE FOR TOILET ROLL? And get caught doing your human right nature call, and police charge you with urinating in public place and indecent exposure and $700 fine you cant afford, WHY? because judge will say use a toilet and not take into account they are all closed, So where do you go? and should Govt reopen all states public toilets as constituted to do so?  

    Q7) Your filthy, nowhere to shower, not hot water, no towel and stink badly, WHERE DO YOU GO? will it have privacy or get you charged for indecent exposure and another $400 fine, HOW WILL YOU BATHE AND WHERE WILL YOU BATHE?  

    Q8) How will you cook, cant carry supplies on your back such as cooker, water, clothes,etc, and Govt wont give rent assistance to the homeless, thus profits of the homeless so why fix it, and you cant afford an occassional motel at $110 on a pension of $220 pw without starving etc, and takeaway and supermarket water is expensive, how will you carry those things with you?  

    Q9) Where do you wash and dry your clothes? moreso if only the set your wearing?  

    Q10) Where do you dump your garbage when local street bins made so tiny to prevent it fitting in ?  

    Q11) Will you feel like a hermit or a vagrant and do you deserve as an innocent human to feel that way and be treated that way?  

    These issues shall be daily, weekly monthly and sopposed to now be yearly prognosis, and will you have to stay near somewhere you can use for a toilet at night whilst all are closed at night, and who would house someone on the dole with such high overpriced rents? what do you do days and nights? What will you think to see no Govt actions. What of bringing in new migrants when already there are no houses knowing they will get one ahead of you?   please dont tell yourself OH I SHALL JUST GO STAY AT MUMMIES HOUSE,  try stay in the real world please, not revert back to childhood.  

    Thank you, I await responses with great interest  


    Homeless persons volunteer organisation

    • Chris Baulman

      June 11, 2009 at 3:50 am

      Rights? – only if you don’t look too closely!

      Hi Brian,

      Public housing is essential for a sustainable society.

      From one perspective, public housing mitigates against what might otherwise become a slide into social chaos.   

      It may provide a secure toehold from which some can climb aboard the train to the market place. As such it is an investment in economic participation and in the containment of welfare to those who could not survive without it, both of which are essential to sustainability.

      However I believe that the market place is NOT the solution to everything, neither in respect of the many people in need of public housing nor in respect of the development of a sustainable society.  

      Public housing can also make it possible for able people who are not suited to the market place to participate in ways that are nevertheless essential to creation of a sustainable society.

      This potential in public housing is as yet largely untapped. By tapping into this potential, public housing could become a much more attractive investment for government.

      This would lead to it being seen as an asset rather than as a liability, and to its expansion and integration into government plans for a sustainable society.   

      In whichever ways government may decide to deliver public housing, this is a proposal for a model that would attach neighbourhood participation programs.

      These programs would be an option for housing applicants who would like to more firmly establish themselves in the neighbourhood.   

      Core to this proposal is the integration of neighbourhood work with a person's natural right to establish a secure home.  

      The proposal is for an evaluation model involving just 10 eligible applicant households. Prospective tenants would be offered improved housing security in return for a minimum 6hr/week/adult commitment to neighbourhood programs. These programs would include activities such as community gardens, beautification programs, resource pools, social events, Neighbourhood Watch etc.  

      The programs and activities would also be aimed at involving informal / casual participation of non project neighbours in a collaboration. This would help neighbourhood programs take a big step forward.

      Secure rental housing could become part of a new neighbourhood work opportunity to enhance the environment for all.   

      This approach would be sustained by supporting local cooperation. Under existing policy, participation in these programs by unemployed people may also be recognised within Centrelink's ‘mutual obligations' requirements.

      In due course, cooperation in sustainable neighbourhood development could even start to provide a small income for part time workers where an alternative was needed to full time employment in the market place.   

      Unlike mortgage payers or typical renters, participants would be in the unique position of having a long term future in the neighbourhood tied to their work within it.

      From this foundation we could begin to see neighbourhoods that really work for the benefit of ALL.  (see

      Chris Sidoti – Commissioner HREOC"The Project (NTW) embodies a unique model for guaranteeing some basic human rights in a manner that has the potential to be both economically sustainable and environmentally sensitive."

  • John Smuts

    June 16, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Charter for Rich Lawyers
    The only group of people who will ultimately benefit if this bill were to be introduced would be lawyers. Increased litigation would be the net result. I can't see ordinary Australians gaining any real difference though.

    • Bayne MacGregor

      June 16, 2009 at 11:35 am

      You base that assertion on?

      Firstly an advisary charter effecting the creation and review of legislation may not involve courts at all!

      Secondly few human rights lawyers worldwide are rich, the poor have most need of human rights law, not the wealthy or corporations which is where rich lawyers make their money.

      And as I'm not wealthy but am Transgender and a Goth and Disabled I may well need a charter to ensure I have equal rights. Friends of mine who are Transsexual would benefit from an end to the discriminations they face by unjust laws and by biased medical rules and bigoted medical practitioners! Friends of mine who are Gay and Lesbian would benefit from equality. Elderly family members and my Indiginous cousins would too and who doesn't know someone whose suffered from mental illness?

      They are all 'ordinary Australians'. They would benefit. But if a charter is merely placed in as part of legislative comitee process without lawyers and courts involved then how could they get rich out off it? And even if the charter does involve courts and lawyers without compensation involved there will be little money in it!

  • Fr Frank Brennan

    June 17, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Closing dates

    Submissions to the National Human Rights Consultation Committee closed on Monday 15 June 2009.

    If you missed the deadline to make a personal submission, and would like to participate in the consultation process, there are still two avenues available to you:

    1. You can participate in an online consultation at until 5pm 26 June.

    2. Public Hearings will be held in the Great Hall, Parliament House in Canberra on 1 to 3 July 2009. Please continue to visit for more information on how you can register to attend the Public Hearings.

    Please note, contributions to Open Forum will not constitute official submissions, however the Committee will be considering your views in preparing their final report to government.

    Father Frank Brennan
    National Human Rights Consultation Committee

    • Brett Paatsch

      June 17, 2009 at 9:43 am

      Okay Father Frank Brennan and fellow Australians

      We need human rights to protect Australians from Torture, Jackboots and the American Way.

      Torture?  Surely I jest? No see yesterdays Washington Post article

      CIA Mistaken on 'High-Value' Detainee, Document Shows

      Where the CIA agents tells the mistakenly identified detainee not to ask about the Constitution because he isn’t an American or on American soil.

      Jackboots? Just about every lawyer not on the Bush payroll as well as then Secretary Kofi Annan said the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was illegal. Simon Crean was releasing the Australian Labor Parties advice to the press to that effect when he was interrupted by the start of the war. As part of the war on terror Bush was Shocking and Aweing the Iraqis. The highest right humans can have is the right not to be murdered (illegally killed) and illegal invasions are mass murder and crimes against humanity.

      The American Way? Its not just the Republicans or Bush that expect an American exception to the global rule of law; the Democrats too, consistently act in the short term national or party interest against the wider human interest. Pelosi took impeachment off the table. Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder are both on record as saying water boarding is torture yet no action is being taken against those Americans in high office that set up those programs despite a duty to act arising from the UN Convention Against Torture. The American Way is that every non-Americans right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is at American discretion and American expedience and their Presidents are above the law.

      There is a real impediment to the rule of law and human rights around the world and it’s the systemic bias of the American Way.

      See Dan Froomkin’s opinion piece Obama: The foot-dragging continues

      Why should this American stuff matter to Australians? Because in the future just as the in the recent past Australian politicians will still face great pressures to stay on-side with the international ally. There is no reason to think the people of America (five percent of humanity) are suddenly going to start electing people who will uphold their oaths and the law against their political interests and against the human rights of foreigners that don’t vote. And there is every reason to think future Presidents of the United States will use the usurped powers allowed to become traditional to the office.

      In future US Presidents and their agents will retain enormous incentives to pressure Australian politicians (along with any others of other nations that have weak rights protections) to forgo the rights of Australian citizens in exchange for political favors.  

      And US Presidents appoint the ambassadors to the UN. The UN can’t make a decision in the Security Council to do anything if the US vetos the resolution and, as we have seen with the Iraq invasion and torture, the US breaks the UN rules when in the opinion of the US President it suits it and the US people as a body politic let them break them.


  • nmalinda

    June 18, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Formalising and ensuring Australia’s human rights obligations

    Which human rights should be better protected or promoted?

    All those rights that are enshrined under the international bill of human rights need to be protected and promoted. Australia, without a Charter of Human Rights is hypocritical in its international acts of waging and promoting human rights and democracy. How can one of the world's most developed nations, a middle power in the Asia-Pacific be regarded as credible if it does not make its government more transparent and accountable on a national level to the very human rights that it supports on an international level?

    In theory, Australia's protection and promotion of the ‘second generation' of right, that is to say the Economic and Social rights presented under the 1966 Convention, is just. However, we have a long way to ensure the civil and political rights that have been enshrined in the national Charters of many countries for centuries.

    Indigenous rights need to be particularly protected, as do the rights of minority ethnic, religious and racial groups and women.

    Do you think that particular groups need special protections?

    First and foremost special consideration and protection needs to be given to indigenous peoples.

    Australia is a multicultural society, however in recent years, with the growth of different community groups, there has been less tolerance towards racial and ethnic groups, refugees and other migrants. To ensure a fair and just Australia and a continuance of multicultural life as it has been in the past, this needs to be taken into account.

    We also have a LONG way to go to meet our obligations of gender non-discrimination. This needs to be taken into account and at the same time Australia should withdraw its reservations under the International Convention of the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

    What should you be able to do if you think your human rights have been breached?

    Do we need a new Commonwealth law to protect human rights?

    Without a Commonwealth law to protect human rights, Australia looses all credibility in international law. In this light, Australia cannot advance in its international standing if it does not ensure that the international obligations it has under international law are not legally enshrined also in our national laws. This cannot be done through an Act of Parliament, one that can be changed and altered with a change of Government, but it must be done through a law lodged in our constitution, that is too difficult to change without a referendum and must be inserted by referendum. After all, we are supposed to be a wholly democratic nation, aren't we? Prime Minister Rudd is looking to advance our position internationally, bidding for a seat on the UN Security Council and positioning Australia to better promote security, democracy, peace and human rights. His bid will not be regarded upon as favourably if Australia continues to hypocritically challenge the international system by not abiding by its international obligations and making the Government accountable for actions for and in protection of its people.

    Should the Australian Human Rights Commission be given greater powers to protect and promote our human rights?

    Definitely. Australia needs to have a stronger Commission. A Commission that has the powers to hear individual complaints of human rights abuses and one that can place us in a credible position when championing human rights on an international level. The Commission should be able to refer any grave violations of human rights to which Australia has an international obligation to the United Nations High Commission of Human Rights. The Commission should also be transparent with its required country reports to the United Nations.

    Should our human rights be considered more formally by the Government when they are making laws?

    Definitely. We cannot sincerely promote the protection of the fundamental rights of all Australians if the Government and its branches and agencies are not made accountable for its actions. By having a Charter of Human Rights, the Government, as well as anyone acting as an agent of government will have to formally abide by its international and national obligations of human rights protection. Particular rights, in this case, should be highlighted such as: the right to equality and non-discrimination (including gender, indigenous, racial and ethnic equality), the right to protection of inhumane and ill-treatment (pertaining to refugee rights), the right to habeas corpus and to a remedy (our terrorism laws need serious review – which can also include the right to association), the rights of disabled peoples, and children's rights.

    Do we need better ways to ensure that the Government and its agencies respect our human rights?

    Yes. This question ties all the above in together. If we have a formal legal Charter of Human Rights, a better reporting and monitoring system and more accountable and transparent governance, and Australia is able to meet its international obligations, this will surely ensure that the Government and its agencies respect, protect and promote the human rights of the Australian people.

    What do you think the role of the Courts should be in the protection of our human rights?

    The supreme court should be able to hear individual cases of human rights abuses brought forward by the Commission. In fact, we should have a Court of Human Rights accountable for hearing national human rights cases, applying national law based on international obligations under the human rights Conventions signed and ratified by Australia.

  • sandie perry

    June 22, 2009 at 2:22 am

    Q3 : How could Australia better protect and promote human rights

    A : As State Laws do not satisfy Treaty requirements, the States should actively engage with the Commonwealth's Treaty Process in an effort to reach the desired outcomes, that being fairness for all, no matter who they are.

    The Laws subsequently place Australia in breach of its International obligations.

    If the States are seen to be ignoring and/or putting aside Australia's own and international obligations towards a basic dignified existence to its people and the people of the United Nations/the world as one, then the Commonwealth Government should step in and over-ride areas of/or the Laws entirely or do so under its external affairs powers to Treaty Ratification obligations – OR – HANG ITS HEAD IN SHAME.

  • brettm

    June 25, 2009 at 7:11 am

    How could Australia better protect and promote human rights?

    Frontyard ( considers a federal Human Rights Act is an essential component of effective human rights protection. Many young people accessing Frontyard experience their human rights being violated on a daily basis. Many young people we have consulted with have asked; "why shouldn't our rights be protected"                       

    Apart from bringing Australia in line with other democratic nations, it will facilitate better outcomes for young people across the country. This would include unequivocal protection against discrimination against young people.            

    The Youth Affairs Council of Victoria ( YACVIC ) has recognized the importance of investigating the needs of Human Rights within a practice framework for the Youth Sector. In 2007 YACVIC released the "Code of Ethical Practice" A First Step for the Victorian Youth Sector (1).

    The code which is based on a Human Rights Framework is a voluntary code of practice for workers within the sector. This code is the first step in highlighting the need to adopt a human rights framework across the youth sector.  

    "This code of ethical practice is based on a Human Rights Framework" The United Nations Convention of the Child, ratified by Australia, has particular relevance to youth work practice. Its four core principles are non discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to life, survival and development, and respect for the views of the child

    Article 3.1 of the Convention prescribes that "in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration".   

    The Code of ethical practice is a voluntary code and although it highlights a number of areas that the youth sector could improve its practice in relation to upholding Human Rights there is no obligation for the sector to adopt the Code of Ethical Practice. Similarly the Victorian Charter of Human Rights is a voluntary charter, with no complaints mechanism for young people to follow if they feel their rights have been breached.

    Frontyard believes that the Victorian Charter is a positive first step in recognizing the importance of Human Rights, and how rights need to be upheld for everyone. However we believe that there is still much more work to be done in the area of Human Rights. 

    When the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities came in to effect in 2008 it was largely believed that this charter provided an opportunity for those marginalised groups who are often continually discriminated against ie young people to be better protected under the framework of legally enforceable human rights. 

    The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is intended to ensure that regard for Human Rights can be incorporated into the design and interpretation of new laws/ polices and programs within Victoria. The Charter itself has the potential to influence, laws and polices and change attitudes in relation to the importance of human rights.

    Whilst Frontyard Youth Services applauds this brave first step in the development of a Charter of Human Rights we feel that there still is considerable work to be done in the recognition of human rights and protection for those that are most vulnerable. Of particular concern in relation to the charter is the issue of "exemptions" which allow for a breaching of a young person's rights which would normally be protected by the charter.  

    Section 7 (2) of the charter sets out of the promotion of the human rights it specifies may be lawfully constrained by certain "reasonable limits" which allows for an exemption from the application of the charter. The charter suggests that certain restrictions on charter rights may be justified when taking into account:All relevant factors including:

    a.    The nature of the right; and

    b.    The importance of the purpose of the limitation; and

    c.    The nature and extent of the limitation; and

    d.    The relationship between the limitation and it's purpose; and

    e.    Any less restrictive means reasonably available to achieve the purpose that the limitation seeks to achieve. 

    The introduction of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights provides a framework for legally enforceable Human Rights for young people. It is not foreseeable that such a charter be used to develop an avenue in which government may seek "exemptions" from the purpose and application of the charter which impinges on the human rights of young people. As stated above many of the young people we consulted with are interested in the issue of human rights and want more done to ensure their rights are protected.    


    1. Youth Affairs Council of Victoria 2007, Code of Ethical Practice- A First Step for the Victorian Youth Sector 

    2. Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006. Act no 43, p.10

  • Fr Frank Brennan

    June 25, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Restricting rights?

    I'd like to raise an issue emerging as part of the broader online discussion, for discussion here: the fear that human rights legislation could actually restrict peoples' rights by giving the Government greater say or control over aspects of peoples' lives, such as speech, lifestyle and so on. 

    'Fcuran' has pointed out on another page that a human rights body or commission responsible for protecting and promoting human rights must be independent from Government (see post 04/06/09). If you think proactively upholding human rights is more important than passively protecting human rights, do you think this should be the responsibility of a civil institution as opposed to a government or public institution? Do you think it's possible to uphold or protect human rights without the government's involvement? Or is it actually the government's responsibility to do so? What would you see as the ideal institution or body to protect and promote our human rights?

    Father Frank Brennan
    National Human Rights Consultation Committee

    • Bayne MacGregor

      June 26, 2009 at 5:12 am

      Equality isn’t restriction of rights, only of unfair advantage

      Much comment of people fearing their 'rights' will be restricted realy mean their 'current unfair power advantage to discriminate' will be restricted.

      Such as the power to vilify other religions, the loss of Special Privileges for certain religions in government rituals or for certain  sexualities in relationship laws.

      Thats just getting a level playing field. There is nothing unfair about fairness!

    • Bayne MacGregor

      June 26, 2009 at 5:34 am

      Combination group

      A review system would of course involve parliament in some fashion.

      One of the best ways to get good results would be for such a comitteee or panal to be made up of a combination of:

      judges or retired judges to ensure an understanding of the law is included in discussions

      human-rights experts with international reputations and recognised qualifications to ensure political appointments of judges is a reduced factor and to ensure a proper understanding of human rights principles is part of the process

      And perhaps a bipartisan selection of legislators if they could be found not to be biased against human rights principles.

  • Cameron Moore

    June 26, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Human Rights & The Australian Defence Force

    The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has often been literally at the sharp end of seeking to uphold human rights around the world, and it has also been accused of not meeting human rights standards at various times. The implications of enhanced human rights protections in Australia are potentially of profound significance to the ADF and its operations. The ADF is used to having to meet the standards of international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) and would adapt to any new human rights laws. The difference between international humanitarian law though and human rights law is that humanitarian law developed to cover military operations whereas with human rights law, military issues are usually an afterthought.

    As an academic who writes on the Australian Defence Force and the law, and as a reservist and former permanent naval officer, I would like to see the National Human Rights Consultation consider military issues from the outset. Discussions with academic and military colleagues have brought to my attention the experience of the UK, Canada and Germany. It illustrates that human rights laws developed for civilian society can have unexpected consequences for the military and its operations. Australia would do well to learn from these experiences so that any new enhanced human rights laws work in the unique context of the ADF and its operations. The issues arise in three main areas:

     1. Military Discipline: As a result of human rights legislation, the UK and Canada had to bring in significant changes to their military discipline systems after they were challenged in court as contrary to human rights standards. The ADF has just overhauled its military discipline system after years of criticism. In developing any new Australian human rights law, it would be better to ensure the ADF's military justice system took it into account first, rather than wait for the military justice system to be found wanting in court.

     2. Overseas Operations: The UK has been subject to court action with respect to treatment of detainees in Iraq as well as treatment of its own personnel. It is fair to say that the UK did not ever contemplate such actions when the human rights legislation first came in. Australia would do well to consider in advance how human rights could or should apply to ADF personnel and those they come into contact with on operations overseas.

    3. Call Out Legislation and the Executive Power: Amendments in 2006 to the Defence Act moved a great deal of the ADF's call out powers onto a statutory basis. These include a range of powers, available only in extreme situations, that would substantially interfere with ordinary human rights. These include the power to destroy aircraft in the air and ships at sea. The German Constitutional Court struck down similar legislation in Germany as contrary to the right to life. Any new human rights law should take into account the extent to which call out powers could or should be consistent with human rights standards. It would better to consider this before an extreme event rather than discover in subsequent litigation that apparently lawful action was actually contrary to human rights law. Another aspect that needs consideration is those aspects of ADF operations that rely on the executive power, rather than legislation, such as maritime interception operations to enforce UN Security Council resolutions.

     It is not going to be that ADF actions will never be challenged in court. It would make any new human rights laws much stronger and more effective though if military issues were taken into account from the outset, rather than being only considered for the first time when the ADF's actions were challenged in court.

    (Human rights and the miltary is a topic of significant current debate in academic and military legal circles. The Armed Forces Law Association of New Zealand is holding a conference to consider it in Wellington between 28-30 August. This link provides the relevant information:

    Cameron Moore

  • Jo Harrison

    June 26, 2009 at 3:22 am

    GLBTI Elders – Where are they in the discussions?

    Gay, Lesbian Bisexual Transgender and Intersex Elders – Where are they in the discussions? 

    Dear National Human Rights Consultation Panel,

    My apologies that I was not able to provide the inquiry with a more comprehensive submission due to being away from Australia while the consultations have been taking place.

    I want to commend everyone involved for generating so much interest and discussion of human rights across the broad spectrum of Australian concerns.

    I do however want to express my serious concern that the issues impacting on gay and lesbian elders may be invisible in the debate and discussion, much as these elders are within our own society. My own Doctoral research investigated gay and lesbian aged care in the US, where there has been much progress on human rights in this arena, and contrasted this with the situation here in Australia, where these matters remain completely unaddressed by the Federal government and almost all of the states.

    GLBTI elders are, in my view, the most vulnerable group of consumers in Australia at present. Lifetimes of being labelled as mentally ill, criminal and evil sinners have led to hiding in fear, and those in receipt of support from the aged care industry continue to hide their identities and suffer severe mental and physical health problems.

     Training of those in the industry, further research, support services that are culturally appropriate, are all needed. Without government policies and programs that even acknowledge this group EXIST in the first place, we are way way behind on protection of rights and enforcements of duty of care responsibilities. The government continues to ignore that gay and lesbian elders have special needs and must be recognised, and our community resourced to address these.

    I was recently interviewed on radio national by both James Carelton (RN Breakfast) and The Life Matters program, about the impact of recent same sex law reform on elders. The impact is devastating, for those who will be forced out of the closet, the extent of the seriousness of this cannot be underestimated, yet the government refused to grandfather the aged from these reforms to social security arrangements, as I suggested in my evidence to the Senate inquiry.

    contains online access to the interviews and centrelink's reply the following day.

    I would hope that there is scope for the human rights consultations to include the matter of the serious invisibility, abuse and discrimination to which these hidden consumers are currently subjected. We need to take steps to remedy this and ensure protection, whether or not elders come out.

    I am happy to provide any further information or documents should the consultations request this. I would also recommend that Dorothy McRae McMahon, who is in her 70s and an out lesbian, be invited to speak at the July consultations, which seem to completely lack lesbian input, which seriously concerns me.

    Yours Sincerely, my best for your deliberations

    Dr Jo Harrison

    University of South Australia

    Consultant Gerontologist

    • Bayne MacGregor

      June 26, 2009 at 5:07 am

      After all they payed extra taxes!

      One injustice pointed out to me is that same-sex pensioner couples have paid the extra taxes of singles all their lives only now to have their incomes suddenly cut by dropping to a couples-rate of pension.

      How can that be fair? They have shouldered an unfair tax-burden theur whole lives! Missing out on all the many past economic advantages! At the very least they should be cut some slack rather than used as another cost-cutting measure of injustice!

  • centreformulticulturalyouth

    June 26, 2009 at 3:38 am

    Link to Submission by Centre for Multicultural Youth

    The Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) is a statewide community-based organisation that advocates for the needs and rights of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. 

    CMY's submission has been informed by a survey and a series of focus groups held with young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. Focus groups were conducted with over 80 young people from both metropolitan and regional Victoria.  CMY also held a statewide forum for youth and community workers from a range of organisations that work with this cohort of young people.  Over 60 people participated in the forum to provide their perspective.  In addition, this submission draws on the organisation's 20 years of experience working with young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds and their communities.

    Here is a link to our submission:

  • Fr Frank Brennan

    June 26, 2009 at 7:09 am

    A vote of thanks

    As this forum draws to a close I'd like to extend my thanks to those who have participated.  Thanks to Sally Rose, Olga Bodrova and the staff of Open Forum for running this for the National Human Rights Consultation. Thanks also to Tom Campbell, George Williams, Nicholas Barry and Phil Lynch for their expert input. 

    Mostly though, thanks to all of you who have posted here. Your contributions are important and will go a long way towards contributing to what has been a phenomenal national debate over human rights. Never before has the Australian public been asked explicitly to tell the Government what they think about human rights. It's a landmark occasion and a great example of a healthy democracy that can ask itself, 'how are we going?' and 'how can we do better?' 

    Whether it has been broad calls for better human rights awareness, specific pleas for assistance coming from Indigenous and other marginalised communities, or the cautioning voices of those who are concerned about the future direction of human rights protection in Australia – your views have been noted.

    For now though, this marks the close of the online forum component of the National Human Rights Consultation. After the public hearings held at Parliament House next week, we'll be battening down the hatches for the coming months to reflect upon and consider everything we've heard and present our report to Government. Keep an eye out on our website for updates on how we're going.

    Thanks again.

    Signing off.

    Father Frank Brennan
    National Human Rights Consultation Committee