Australian Human Rights Commission
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Australian Human Rights Commission

Australian Human Rights Commission
Australian Human Rights Commission logo.svg
Commission overview
Formed1986 (1986)
Preceding commission
  • Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
JurisdictionAustralia
HeadquartersSydney
Employees126[1]
Minister responsible
Commission executives
  • Ros Croucher, President[2]
  • June Oscar, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner[2]
  • Dr Ben Gauntlett, Disability Discrimination Commissioner[2]
  • Edward Santow, Human Rights Commissioner[2]
  • Chin Tan, Race Discrimination Commissioner[2]
  • Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner[2]
  • Kay Patterson, Age Discrimination Commissioner[2]
Key documents
Websitehumanrights.gov.au
Ros Croucher, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission since 2017.

The Australian Human Rights Commission is the national human rights institution of Australia, established in 1986 as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and renamed in 2008. It is a statutory body funded by, but operating independently of, the Australian Government. It is responsible for investigating alleged infringements of Australia's anti-discrimination legislation in relation to federal agencies.

The Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 articulates the Australian Human Rights Commission's role and responsibilities. Matters that can be investigated by the Commission under the Australian Human Rights Commission Regulations 2019 include discrimination on the grounds of age, medical record, an irrelevant criminal record; disability; marital or relationship status; nationality; sexual orientation; or trade union activity.

Commission officebearers

The Commission falls under the portfolio of the Attorney-General of Australia.

Commission presidents

The following individuals have been appointed as President of the Human Rights Commission, and its precedent organisation:[3]

Order Official Official title Term
1 Marcus Einfeld President, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 1986-1990
2 Ronald Wilson 1990-1998
3 Alice Tay 1998-2003
4 John von Doussa 2003-2008
5 Catherine Branson President, Australian Human Rights Commission 2008-2012
6 Gillian Triggs 2012-2017
7 Ros Croucher[4] 2017-present

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioners

The following individuals have been appointed as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner:[3]

Order Official Official title Term
1 Mick Dodson Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner 1993-1998
2 Zita Antonios 1998-1999 (acting)
3 Bill Jonas 1999-2004
4 Tom Calma 2004-2010
5 Mick Gooda 2010-2016
5 June Oscar 2016-present

Disability Discrimination Commissioners

The following individuals have been appointed as a Disability Discrimination Commissioners:[3]

Order Official Official title Term
1 Elizabeth Hastings Disability Discrimination Commissioner 1993-1997
2 Chris Sidoti 1998 (acting)
3 Susan Halliday 1999 (acting)
4 Sev Ozdowski 2000-2005 (acting)
5 Graeme Innes 2005-2014
6 Susan Ryan 2014-2016 (acting)
7 Alastair McEwin 2016-2019
8 Ben Gauntlett 2019-present

Human Rights Commissioners

The following individuals have been appointed as a Human Rights Commissioner:[3][5]

Order Official Official title Term
1 Brian Burdekin Human Rights Commissioner 1986-1994
2 Chris Sidoti 1995-2000
3 Sev Ozdowski 2000-2005
4 Graeme Innes 2005-2009
5 Catherine Branson 2009-2012
6 Tim Wilson 2013-2016
7 Edward Santow 2016-present

Race Discrimination Commissioners

The following individuals have been appointed as a Race Discrimination Commissioner:[3]

Order Official Official title Term
1 Irene Moss Race Discrimination Commissioner 1986-1994
2 Zita Antonios 1994-1999
3 Bill Jonas 1999-2004
4 Tom Calma 2004-2009
5 Graeme Innes 2009-2011
6 Helen Szoke 2011-2013
7 Gillian Triggs 2013 (acting)
8 Tim Soutphommasane 2013-2018
9 Chin Tan 2018-present

Sex Discrimination Commissioners

The following individuals have been appointed as a Sex Discrimination Commissioner:[3]

Order Official Official title Term
1 Pam O'Neil Sex Discrimination Commissioner 1984-1988
2 Quentin Bryce 1988-1993
3 Susan Walpole 1993-1997
4 Moira Scollay 1997-1998 (acting)
5 Susan Halliday 1998-2001
6 Pru Goward 2001-2007
7 John von Doussa 2007 (acting)
8 Elizabeth Broderick 2007-2015
9 Kate Jenkins 2016-present

Age Discrimination Commissioner

The following individuals have been appointed as an Age Discrimination Commissioner, or precedent titles:[3]

Order Official Official title Term
1 Pru Goward Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination 2005-2007
2 John von Doussa 2007 (acting)
3 Elizabeth Broderick 2007-2011
4 Susan Ryan Age Discrimination Commissioner 2011-2016
5 Kay Patterson Age Discrimination Commissioner 2016-present

National Children's Commissioner

The following individuals have been appointed as a National Children's Commissioner:[3]

Order Official Official title Term
1 Megan Mitchell National Children's Commissioner 2013-present

Privacy Commissioner

The following have served as Privacy Commissioner, initially at HREOC and then at two other Offices:

Order Official Official title Term
1 Kevin O'Connor, AM Privacy Commissioner (at HREOC) 1989-1996
2 Moira Scollay 1997-1999
3 Malcolm Crompton Privacy Commissioner (at HREOC until July 2000, then at OPC) 1999-2004
4 Karen Curtis Privacy Commissioner (at OPC) 2004-2010
5 Timothy Pilgrim PSM Privacy Commissioner (at OAIC);
Acting Australian Information Commissioner (from 2015)
2010-present [2016]

On 1 January 1989 the Privacy Act 1988 established the Privacy Commissioner within the Commission. The Privacy Commissioner continued in the Commission until 1 July 2000, when a new Office of the Privacy Commissioner was established by the federal Parliament, and the Privacy Commissioner was separated from the Commission.

In 2010, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) was established and the previously independent Office of the Privacy Commissioner was subsumed into it. The Privacy Commissioner now came under the supervision of the new Australian Information Commissioner, who could exercise the Privacy Commissioner's powers.

From 2014, the incoming Australian government under PM Tony Abbott attempted to abolish the OAIC, succeeding in having the Australian Information Commissioner (Prof John McMillan) unexpectedly retire early and FOI Commissioner (James Popple) resign,[6] and cutting OAIC's budget. But the Senate failed to pass the necessary legislation (Freedom of Information Amendment (New Arrangements) Bill 2014). Several former judges suggested this pursuit of the abolition of a body created by Parliament without its support for that abolition raises constitutional and rule of law concerns.[7] Then-Privacy Commissioner Pilgrim was appointed Acting Australian Information Commissioner in July 2015 for three months, filling all three OAIC roles on a part-time basis (and now also administering the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) and the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 (Cth)). He was reappointed as Acting Australian Information Commissioner in October 2015 for three months, and again on 19 January 2016 until 19 April 2016.[8]

In early 2016, it remained unclear whether the Privacy Commissioner role would be returned to the Commission if the abolition of the OAIC were to succeed.

On 18 March 2016, the Commonwealth Attorney-General advertised for expressions of interest in the positions, to commence in July, of Age Discrimination Commissioner, Disability Discrimination Commissioner and Human Rights Commissioner.[9]

Legislation

From its introduction until 2000, the Commission hosted the Commissioner administering the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

The Commission investigates alleged infringements under the following federal legislation:[10]

The Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 articulates the Australian Human Rights Commission's role and responsibilities. It gives effect to Australia's obligations under the following:[10][11]

Matters that can be investigated by the Commission under the Australian Human Rights Commission Regulations 2019 include discrimination on the grounds of age, medical record, an irrelevant criminal record; disability; marital or relationship status; nationality; sexual orientation; or trade union activity.[12]

Public inquiries

One of the more visible functions of the Commission is to conduct public inquiries. Some examples of inquires conducted include:

  • Homeless Children Inquiry (1989)[13]
  • Inquiry into the Accessibility of electronic commerce and new service and information technologies for older Australians and people with a disability (2000)[14]
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Inquiry (2000)[15][16]
  • Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry into financial and workplace discrimination against same-sex couples[17]
  • Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families (Bringing Them Home Report (1997)[18])
  • National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention (2004)[19] The report, A Last Resort? was published in April 2004.[20]
  • National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention (2014)[21]The Forgotten Children report was submitted by Gillian Triggs in November 2014.[22]
  • Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review (2014)[23]

Reviews

On 30 July 2020, the Australian Human Rights Commission announced that they would conduct a review of the country's gymnastics program, following complaints of physical and mental abuse from some of the former athletes. Former Australian gymnasts had reported being assaulted by coaches, fat-shamed and made to train and compete while injured.[24][25]

Gender identity and sexuality

Private members' bills introduced from both the Australian Greens and the Australian Democrats tried to add sexuality and/or gender identity to the list of matters that can be investigated by the Commission, which always failed to pass at least one house of parliament between 1995 and June 2007, because of a lack of support from both the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition in the federal parliament.[26]

Relevant legislation was later passed in Acts such as the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013.[27]

Human Rights Awards and Medals

Since 1987, the Human Rights Awards have been presented at the Commission's annual Human Rights Medal and Awards ceremony.

The Human Rights Medal is the highest award of the Human Rights Awards to individuals "for their outstanding contribution to human rights in Australia".

In 2008 the Young People's Human Rights Medal was awarded for the first time.

International status

The Commission is one of some 70 national human rights institutions (NHRIs) accredited by the International Co-ordinating Committee of NHRIs (ICC), a body sponsored by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The Commission's "A status" accreditation allows it special access to the United Nations human rights system, including speaking rights at the Human Rights Council and other committees. The Commission can present parallel reports ("shadow reports") to UN treaty committees examining Australia's compliance with international human rights instruments. It has been very active in developing NHRIs throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and is a leading member of the Asia Pacific Forum of NHRIs, one of four regional sub-groups of NHRIs.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Table 2". APS Statistical Bulletin 2014-15 (Report). Australian Public Service Commission. Archived from the original on 23 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "About the Commission". Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 08 January 2019
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Previous Office Holders". President & Commissioners. Australian Human Rights Commission. 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ "Commission Welcomes New President" (Press release). Australian Human Rights Commission. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ Ed Santow, head of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, will succeed Tim Wilson as Human Rights Commissioner: Sydney Law School e-News 31 May 2016.
  6. ^ "The slow death of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner", Canberra Times, 1 September 2015
  7. ^ Tim Smith, David Harper, Stephen Charles, "Senate's last chance to save FOI watchdog and protect the rule of law", Canberra Times, 22 June 2015
  8. ^ Commissioner Pilgrim was reported to have recognised the implications of uncertain tenure: "This has, naturally, created uncertainty and speculation particularly amongst administrative law and open government advocacy circles about the ability of the OAIC to be effective and perform the important role that it holds for the community in the privacy and FOI spaces."
  9. ^ AHRC Commissioners, expressions of interest, March 2016
  10. ^ a b "Legislation". Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 2020.CC-BY icon.svg Text was copied from this source, which is available under a Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
  11. ^ "Australian Government". Federal Register of Legislation. 6 December 1986. Retrieved 2020.CC-BY icon.svg Text available under a Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
  12. ^ "Australian Human Rights Commission Regulations 2019". Federal Register of Legislation. 13 September 2019. Retrieved 2020.CC-BY icon.svg Text was copied from this source, which is available under a Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
  13. ^ "Our Homeless Children". Australian Human Rights Commission. 1 January 1989. Retrieved 2020.
  14. ^ "Accessibility of electronic commerce and new service and information technologies for older Australians and people with a disability". Australian Human Rights Commission. 31 March 2000. Retrieved 2020.
  15. ^ "Report of the National Inquiry into Pregnancy and Work - HREOC assessment of Government Responses to Recommendations". Australian Human Rights Commission. 1 November 2000. Retrieved 2020.
  16. ^ "Pregnancy and Work Inquiry". Australian Human Rights Commission. 1 November 2000. Retrieved 2020.
  17. ^ "Same Sex: Same Entitlements". Australian Human Rights Commission. 1 January 2006. Retrieved 2020.
  18. ^ "Bringing them Home Report (1997)". Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 2020.
  19. ^ "National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2004". Australian Human Rights Commission. 13 May 2004. Retrieved 2015.
  20. ^ A last resort? National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. 1 April 2004. ISBN 0-642-26989-0. Retrieved 2020.PDF
  21. ^ "National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014". Australian Human Rights Commission. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 2020.
  22. ^ The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention. Australian Human Rights Commission. 2014. ISBN 978-1-921449-56-7.PDF CC-BY icon.svg Text is available under a Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
  23. ^ "Supporting Working Parents: Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review - Report". Australian Human Rights Commission. 25 July 2014. Retrieved 2020.
  24. ^ "Gymnastics: Australia human rights body to probe abuse complaints". Reuters. Retrieved 2020.
  25. ^ "Information: Independent Cultural Review of Gymnastics in Australia 2020". Australian Human Rights Commission. 30 July 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  26. ^ "Australian Democrats Press Releases". Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 2007.
  27. ^ "Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013". Federal Register of Legislation. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 2020.

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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