Federal human rights laws will result in positive outcomes for vulnerable Australians

2nd Aug 2023

A federal legislative human rights act would benefit us all but would lead to significant, positive, life-changing outcomes for some of the most vulnerable people in our community, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“We are confident that having federal human rights laws in place will result in better treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whistleblowers and asylum seekers, as well as improved quality in service delivery in disability services, aged-care services, veterans’ services, social security services and more,” said Mr Shaun Marcus, National President, Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“A federal human rights act would ensure that those who wield power are subject to a code of conduct that would prevent them from exercising this power in a way that infringes upon people’s rights.

“There are many examples of significant litigation where breaches of fundamental rights were at the heart of the case. In so many of these cases a federal human rights act would have either prevented litigation or resulted in a better outcome.”

Drawing on the experiences in Victoria, the ACT and Queensland, the ALA says there is evidence that important and practical human rights protections can be achieved when human rights laws are in place.

The ALA has made a detailed submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights as part of its inquiry into Australia’s human rights framework.  

Australia is the only western democracy without a federal human rights act, bill of rights or charter of rights.

“We need to catch up with accepted and developing international standards when it comes to protecting the human rights of our citizens,” said Mr Marcus.  “Human rights laws are positive and effective mechanisms for safeguarding the dignity and well-being of everyone in a healthy democracy.

“Human rights legislation would not only deliver protection and freedoms but ensure that governments and leaders are accountable to the Australian people.

“A public conversation on our human rights is well overdue. We welcome the Federal Government’s ongoing inquiry and the opportunity for stakeholders like the ALA to have input into this issue, and we hope that this leads to real progress.”

The ALA also continues to support legislative human rights acts or charters being introduced in New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Read our submission to the Inquiry into Australia'a Human Rights Framework here.

Tags: Human rights National laws