Australian Human Rights Commission
||It has been suggested that Sex Discrimination Commissioner be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since July 2013.|
The Australian Human Rights Commission is a national human rights institution, 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 has the responsibility for investigating alleged infringements under Australia’s anti-discrimination legislation. Matters that can be investigated by the Commission under the Australian Human Rights Commission Regulations 1989 include "discrimination on the grounds of race or nationality, religious, colour or ethnic origin, racial vilification, age, sex or gender, sexual harassment, marital or relationship status, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, actual or potential pregnancy, breastfeeding, trade union activity, criminal record, medical record, impairment or physical disability".
- 1 Commission officebearers
- 1.1 Commission Presidents
- 1.2 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioners
- 1.3 Disability Discrimination Commissioners
- 1.4 Human Rights Commissioners
- 1.5 Race Discrimination Commissioners
- 1.6 Sex Discrimination Commissioners
- 1.7 Age Discrimination Commissioner
- 1.8 National Children's Commissioner
- 2 Legislation
- 3 Public inquiries
- 4 Gender identity and sexuality
- 5 Human Rights Medals and Awards
- 6 International status
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The Commission falls under the portfolio of the Attorney-General of Australia.
The following individuals have been appointed as President of the Human Rights Commission, and its precedent organisation:
|1||Hon. Justice Marcus Einfeld QC1||President, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission||1986–1990|
|2||Sir Ronald Wilson AC KBE CMG QC||1990–1998|
|3||Professor Alice Tay AM||1998–2003|
|4||Hon. Justice John von Doussa AO QC||2003–2008|
|5||The Hon. Catherine Branson QC||President, Australian Human Rights Commission||2008–2012|
|6||Professor Gillian Triggs||2012–present|
- 1 Einfield was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1997. However, his commission was revoked on 26 November 2008.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioners
The following individuals have been appointed as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner:
|1||Mick Dodson AM||Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner||1993–1998|
|2||Zita Antonios||1998–1999 (acting)|
|3||Dr Bil Jonas AM||1999–2004|
Disability Discrimination Commissioners
The following individuals have been appointed as a Disability Discrimination Commissioners:
|1||Elizabeth Hastings||Disability Discrimination Commissioner||1993–1997|
|2||Chris Sidoti||1998 (acting)|
|3||Susan Halliday||1999 (acting)|
|4||Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM||2000–2005 (acting)|
|5||Graeme Innes AM||2005–present|
Human Rights Commissioners
The following individuals have been appointed as a Human Rights Commissioner:
|1||Brian Burdekin AO||Human Rights Commissioner||1986–1994|
|3||Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM||2000–2005|
|4||Graeme Innes AM||2005–2009|
|5||The Hon. Catherine Branson QC||2009–2012|
Race Discrimination Commissioners
The following individuals have been appointed as a Race Discrimination Commissioner:
|1||Irene Moss AO||Race Discrimination Commissioner||1986–1994|
|3||Dr Bill Jonas AM||1999–2004 (acting)|
|5||Graeme Innes AM||2009–2011|
|6||Dr Helen Szoke||2011–2013|
|7||Professor Gillian Triggs||2013 (acting)|
|8||Dr Tim Soutphommasane||2013–present|
Sex Discrimination Commissioners
The following individuals have been appointed as a Sex Discrimination Commissioner:
|1||Pam O'Neill||Sex Discrimination Commissioner||1984–1988|
|2||Quentin Bryce AC||1988–1993|
|4||Moira Scollay||1997–1998 (acting)|
|7||Hon. Justice John von Doussa AO QC||2007 (acting)|
Age Discrimination Commissioner
The following individuals have been appointed as an Age Discrimination Commissioner, or precedent titles:
|1||Pru Goward||Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination||2005–2007|
|2||Hon. Justice John von Doussa AO QC||2007 (acting)|
|4||The Hon. Susan Ryan AO||Age Discrimination Commissioner||2011–present|
National Children's Commissioner
The following individuals have been appointed as a National Children's Commissioner:
|1||Megan Mitchell||National Children's Commissioner||2013–present|
The Commission investigates alleged infringements under the following federal legislation:
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
- Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth)
- Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (formerly Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986)
One of the more visible functions of the Commission is to conduct public inquiries. Some examples of inquires conducted include:
- Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry into financial and workplace discrimination against same-sex couples
- Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families
- National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention
- Homeless Children Inquiry
- Pregnancy Discrimination Inquiry
- Inquiry into the Accessibility of electronic commerce and new service and information technologies for older Australians and people with a disability
- Inquiry into Human Rights and Good Governance Education in the Asia Pacific Region
- MacLennan-Hookham suspension
Gender identity and sexuality
Private members bills introduced from both the Australian Greens and the Australian Democrats have tried to add sexuality and/or gender identity to the list of matters that can be investigated by the Commission, which has always failed to pass at least one house of parliament since 1995, because of a lack of support from both the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition in the federal parliament.
In late 2010, the Gillard Labor Government announced that it is undertaking a review of federal anti-discrimination laws, with the aim of introducing a single equality act that would include sexual orientation and gender identity. This was abandoned and instead the Gillard Labor Government introduced another bill - which is mentioned below.
On 25 June 2013, the Australian Federal Parliament passed the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 with overwhelming support in both houses and became law from Royal Assent three days later by the Governor-General. Then became effective from August 1, 2013, making discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and for the first time in the world, Intersex people illegal at a national level. Aged care providers who are owned by religious groups will no longer be able to exclude people from aged care services based on their LGBTI or same-sex relationship status. However, religious owned private schools and religious owned hospitals are exempt from gender identity and sexual orientation provisions in the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013. No religious exemptions exist on the basis of intersex status.
Human Rights Medals and Awards
Since 1987 the Human Rights Medal and other awards have been presented at the Commission’s annual Human Rights Medal and Awards ceremony.
The Human Rights Medal is awarded 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.
Other awards are:
- Human Rights Community (Individual) Award.
- Human Rights Community (Organisation) Award.
- Human Rights Radio Award
- Human Rights Television Award
- Human Rights Print Media Award
- Human Rights Arts Non-Fiction Award
- Human Rights Law Award - sponsored by the Law Council of Australia
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.
- "Previous Office Holders". President & Commissioners. Australian Human Rights Commission. 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
- "Einfeld stripped of QC status". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 26 November 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2008.
- Australian DemocratsAustralian Democrats Press Releases
- Red Book plan a step towards gay marriage, The Australian, 15 December 2010
- Australian Parliament, Explanatory Memorandum to the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013, 2013
- Australia outlaws LGBT discrimination under national laws for first time, 25 June 2013