The Queensland Human Rights Act
Before Bringing a Human Rights Act Complaint
The Role of Parliament
The Role of Courts and Tribunals
The Role of Public Entities
The Rights of Individuals and the Complaints Process
Example of Human Rights Engaged by Public Entity Actions and Decisions
The Rights Protected Under the Human Rights Act
Recognition and Equality Before the Law
Right to Life
Protection From Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
Freedom From Forced Work
Freedom of Movement
Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion and Belief
Freedom of Expression
Peaceful Assembly and Freedom of Association
Taking Part in Public Life
Privacy and Reputation
Protection of Families and Children
Cultural Rights – Generally
Cultural Rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
Liberty and Security of a Person
Humane Treatment When Deprived of Liberty
Rights in Criminal Proceedings
Children in the Criminal Process
The Right not to be Tried or Punished More Than Once
Retrospective Criminal Laws
Right to Education
Right to Health Services
The Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) (Human Rights Act) aims to recognise, protect and promote the equal rights and worth of all Queenslanders. It recognises that human rights intrinsically belong to each person and brings those rights to the heart of government, judicial and legislative decision making.
Historically, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Queensland have been particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses, and their rights have been significantly interfered with throughout colonisation, including by state laws and policies that permitted forced dislocation from land, removal of children and the control of wages later lost or stolen. Interference with the rights of children including through child protection laws, sexual abuse in government institutions and treatment in detention have also led to human rights violations. In line with other Western nations, women have historically faced restrictions of their rights in marriage, property ownership, employment and, in an ongoing sense, in obtaining protection from the law as victims of domestic violence. Other groups, such as Pacific South Sea Islanders who were forced to work in slavery in Queensland’s agricultural industry, people with disabilities who were forcibly segregated into custodial institutions and gay men who were persecuted under historical homosexual criminal laws have experienced unique human rights abuses.
Interactions between individuals and the state continue to have the potential to erode human rights. Human rights complaints are prevalent in response to the provision of policing, child protection, housing, correctional, aged care, education and health services. From the single mother facing eviction from public housing, to the recent migrant who is over-policed for their race, the concerned citizen peacefully protesting, to children held in police watchhouses, the Human Rights Act provides a new avenue of protection. Since its commencement on 1 January 2020, the Human Rights Act has been considered in decisions about child protection, review of negative Blue Card notices, the making of non-publication orders, appeals against sentence, the supervision of released prisoners, applications for bail and parole, requests for judge-only trials and exclusions from school. Environmental decision making is an emerging human rights area, with decisions about land use and environmental laws having the potential to erode rights now and in the future.
In addition to the Human Rights Act, human rights protection exists at a local, national and international level. Existing legislative protection of human rights in Queensland include the right to peaceful assembly under the Peaceful Assembly Act 1992 (Qld) and the prohibition of discrimination, or less favourable treatment, of people on the grounds of attributes including religion, gender or race under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld). Similarly, federal laws prohibit discrimination, and the Australian Constitution contains a limited implied right to freedom of political communication. There are also human rights Acts or similar in most other similar democracies including New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The rights in the Human Rights Act are largely derived from international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the right to education and to health services, drawn from the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and property rights drawn from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Other key international human rights instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are also reflected in domestic human rights laws, particularly within the state and federal anti-discrimination laws.