‘Charter of rights’ not the solution for Australia

The Australian Human Rights Commission has initiated a ‘national conversation’ on Australia's human rights system through a project that has been ongoing since 2018 named “Free and Equal”.

The project focuses on the effectiveness of Australia’s anti-discrimination laws, protection of rights during policy development and law-making, and accountability processes to ensure progress towards fulfilling human rights.

The Commission has published two lengthy position papers, one of which proposes a human rights charter.

It is very doubtful that this charter would improve protection for religious followers.

While the idea of a human rights charter is appealing, it is not the solution when basic laws protecting against discrimination on the basis of religion are not yet enacted by the Commonwealth.

While the Commission previously accepted written submissions and facilitated a conference on the topic in October 2019 in Sydney, the process for further deliberation is currently unclear. However, individuals are invited to contact the Commission with any questions about how they can be involved in the project.

The Human Rights Law Alliance will provide a more detailed response to the proposals once we’ve had a chance to consider the hundreds of pages of supporting documentation.