Rights of ACT residents must be protected with simple and affordable complaints mechanism

28th Apr 2022

ACT residents who believe their human rights have been breached need a simple and affordable way to make a complaint and access legal remedies, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) in a submission to the ACT Government.

“Currently, to challenge an alleged breach of our human rights legislation, you must commence Supreme Court proceedings which is not possible for most people,” said Ms Amber Wang, ACT President, ALA. “Court litigation is a costly and time-consuming process, and for this reason is not always an accessible option for people.

“Providing alternate dispute resolution like conciliation with the Human Rights Commission would be an efficient and preferable option for most people. There would be potential for the Commission to resolve the complaint with a range of remedies, including an apology, enforcing change to an organisation’s policies and procedures, mandating staff training or providing compensation.

“If the conciliation process is not successful, the complaint could be escalated to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal for determination.

"Equipping the Human Rights Act with these complaint mechanisms would increase the accessibility of access to justice. It is critical that people have a simple avenue to complain if they feel that their rights have not been respected, and that there is an accessible and practical mechanism in place to address their complaint.

“Providing easily accessible legal remedies is also an important way to hold organisations to account for their decisions and actions.”

The ALA has made a submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety regarding Petition 32-21 (No Rights Without Remedy). The submission supports the petition which advocates for legislative amendments that provide access to Alternative Dispute Resolution for those seeking redress for grievances under the ACT Human Rights Act (2004).

Read the ALA’s submission here.

Tags: Human rights ACT