Australia and the Importance of Human Rights

Australia and the Importance of Human Rights

Human Rights Institutional Framework in Australia

Australia’s popular and strong political press for protecting civil rights are the government’s intervention and the reflection in the society. The institution that has granted the rights to implement the obligation to fulfill human rights framework under the international law is the Australian Human Rights Commission, which was an act passed in 1986 (many years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights where Australia played a key role) [1]. Under the act, the range of powers includes the following:

  • resolving complaints of discrimination or breaches of human rights under federal laws,
  • holding public inquiries into human rights issues of national importance
  • developing human rights education programs and resources for schools, workplaces and the community
  • providing independent legal advice to assist courts in cases that involve human rights principles
  • providing advice and submissions to parliaments and governments to develop laws, policies and programs
  • undertaking and coordinating research into human rights and discrimination issues. [2]

The commission was not limited to the powers, but has continued to evolve and further enhance the implementation of laws that adapts to the challenges and abuses of human rights. The new parliamentary joint committee on human rights have reviewed the alignment of federal laws in compliance of the international human rights laws [3]. It also directed for the launch of new National Action Plan on Human Rights. The website can be launched here . This plan allows NGOs on certain information about the process and create ideas to be developed for the government’s submission of “action plans”. The main objective is “to outline future action for the promotion and protection of human rights” [4] The submission to the attorney-general states the issues in the fundamental human rights occurring in Australia and how it affects both the local and international societies. The acknowledgment of the government results in the imperative to develop strategies to address the human rights issues and the National Action Plan comprehensively have been steering attempts to achieve the action plans. Some of the issues in the submission included justice for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, People with Disabilities, Sexual and Gender Identity, Poverty and Prisoners. The issues mainly focus on the violations happening in Australia and hopefully be addressed through the National Action Plan. Below is the snapshot of the Children’s rights and the data on the impact on the Australian society.


Human Rights Violations 

Taken from Google


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Abuses

The story of the past tells us that during the British rule, the massacres of the Aboriginal people have been well-documented. This led to the land being stolen from them and eventually colonized. The foundation of Australia has placed the indigenous population at a disadvantage – which deteriorated the aboriginal communities, removal of its autonomy, incarcerations and abuses in the indigenous youths in detentions [5]. Most importantly, the indigenous children abuses have been highlighted more than the neglect and protection. The maltreatment and sexual abuses of children have also been unreported for some due to fear of experiencing racism and shame [6]. While there is recognition of the issue of abuses, the support and programs to address still lacks action and plans to ensure it ends (listed in the National Action Plan, but it is still prevalent). This also links to the similar human rights violation in the case of refugees – particularly those in Nauru.


The island near the Pacific Ocean, Nauru, used to be the rich in resources such as Phosphate and fertilizers – and was also once a German colony before becoming Australia’s protectorate. Now, it has been known as the “remote site” for offshore processing of people who seek asylum and protection.  Simply put, it has become the dumping ground of refugees [7].

Refugees taken into warehouses in Nauru


The release of Nauru files reports that Australia has never subjected boat seeking asylum seekers to ever settle in Australia. Instead, most of them are warehoused in “appalling conditions.” More details of the incidents are followed in the Nauru files. Exposure of the incidents are under the human rights watch – such as “non-consensual sex, believing the same Syrian child incident in the TV will be next for them, code blue detected with the smell of bleach” [8]. The video below shares more of the insights on the Nauru files.

Human Rights Under Surveillance

Human Rights in Australia may be a ‘surprise’ for some people, but the human rights watch calls for action and propaganda to take action and a call for stronger human rights protection. Despite the National Action Plan from the Human Rights Commission and numerous NGOs and active participation of the Australian government, it should be no reason to leave little opportunity to completely address the issues and hide the violations from the eyes of the international communities. According to the article from Hamad of Sydney Morning Herald, the brutalization of the Aboriginal communities is “how the country became Australia.” [9] In order for the violations to stop happening, the admission must be in place and the truth needs to be handled accordingly and the asylum seekers and refugees seeking for help may be the first step.


[1] Human Rights Commission. “Australia’s human rights framework.” Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. Accessed November 16, 2016.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Hamad, Ruby. 2016. “We need to stop acting ‘surprised’ at Australia’s human rights violations.” Sydney Morning Herald. Last modified August 19, 2016. Accessed November 16, 2016.

[6] Stanley, Janet., and Adam M. Tomison., and Julian Pocock. 2003. “Child abuse and neglect in Indigenous Australian communities.” Australian Government. Last modified September 2003. Accessed November 16, 2016.

[7] Doherty, Ben. 2016. “A short history of Nauru, Australia’s dumping ground for refugees.” The Guardian. Last modified August 9, 2016. Accessed November 16, 2016.

[8] Ibid.


[9] Ibid, Hamad.


5 thoughts on “Australia and the Importance of Human Rights

  1. As of the rise of the national movements in Australia noawdays, just like in the US and the EU, I am not sure if the country would keep the human rights. lately, Australian right wings, who are really strong in the government, started their campaign against the refugees, asylum seekers, and minorities. How do you think a change in the government toward the right wing parties would affect the human rights and democracy ?
    Nice post


  2. Australia has a solid record of protecting civil and political rights. However, the government’s failure to respect international standards for asylum seekers and refugees continues to take a heavy human toll. The country’s practices of mandatory detention of asylum seekers, abuses related to offshore processing, and outsourcing of refugee obligations to other countries have been heavily criticized by United Nations experts, foreign governments, and even some Australian government-funded inquiries. The government has also instituted overly broad and vague counterterrorism laws and has done too little to address indigenous rights and disability rights.


  3. A good information about the human right in Australia and how the refugee who seeks for refuge are being deprived of the right of the international human right, it is necessary for the government of Australia to sit for a redress in positioning the human rights of persons residing within the territory.


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