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e-bulletin, 26 July 2017

Rights Rights and Freedoms

Welcome to the Australian Human Rights Commission e-bulletin. Published monthly, this e-bulletin keeps you up-to-date with our programs, projects and news.

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In this e-bulletin:

Farewell to Gillian

The Commission warmly thanks Professor Gillian Triggs for her service as President.

In a recent speech, Gillian looked back on some of the highlights of the last five years:

“I have seen the best that Australia can be at an aged care home for Aboriginal  stockmen, three hours drive out of Katherine on a long dusty red road.

“I have also seen the dark side of our nation visiting Christmas Island three times and Immigration detention centres in Villawood, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Darwin, and Brisbane and most recently in Yongah Hill in WA -  places of despair tempered by a hope for a better life.

“The Commission has collaborated with business leaders and captains of industry.

“On one memorable day I went on a ‘walk about’ in Batemans Bay to visit small business where I terrified local shop keepers who wanted to know why I was there and what they had done wrong!  I assured them I was there to help.”

Professor Triggs departs at the end of July after a five-year term.


Welcome to Ros

Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM will begin work as the Commission’s next President on July 30.

Professor Croucher has been with the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) for more than 10 years, almost eight of those as President.

During this time, Professor Croucher has led nine law reform inquiries, including the recently completed inquiry on  Elder Abuse.

Professor Croucher has had a distinguished career in legal education prior to joining the ALRC, with 25 years in university teaching and management.


Sexual Assault at Australian Universities

On August 1, the Commission will release its report into sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities.

The Change the course report is based on a survey of more than 30,000 university students from all 39 Australian universities.

The report also incorporates information from more than 1800 submissions to the Commission.

These submissions shed light on how students’ experiences of assault and harassment have impacted their lives, studies and mental health. 

The report includes recommendations to Australia’s universities on how to more effectively prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment in university settings.

The full report will be available on the Commission website at 10 am on August 1.


First Nations’ voice to Parliament

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocates and supporters for constitutional reform met at the Commission on 24 July to declare their support for a First Nations’ voice to Parliament.

The meeting was convened by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar and Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia, Professor Tom Calma.

In a joint statement, those in attendance urged all Australians and First Nations peoples to focus their collective attention on the recommendations of the Referendum Council.

“We urge the leadership of this country to support the Referendum Council’s first recommendation to have a voice to Parliament, to have a body that enables us to determine our affairs.”

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Getting Involved

There are a couple of easy ways to get involved with the Australian Human Rights Commission.

One is to nominate yourself or somebody you know for our annual Human Rights Awards.

The Awards are open to anybody who has contributed to human rights in Australia.  Nominations close on August 14.

The other is by taking a photograph for our photo competition on the theme of Home.

We’re offering a $600 voucher to spend at JB-Hifi or Apple to each of the two overall winners.

Photos can be taken on your phone, more details here.

Failing our Young People

The Australian Human Rights Commission has expressed continuing and deep concern about the abuse of young people in detention.

“The focus on punitive measures is failing young people. A much better approach is to focus on effective early intervention, prevention and diversion programs,” said the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar.

The National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, said Australia has around 900 children and young people in youth justice detention at any one time.

“This issue is clearly not restricted to one state or territory.

“Children and young people in youth justice detention are entitled to serve their time free from abuse.

Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow said the Federal Government’s impending ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) is an important part of a national response to detention abuse.

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Recent news

Recent submissions

Recent speeches

Get involved - upcoming events

For the latest media releases, speeches, opinion pieces, go to the media centre on the Commission’s website and for events go to our Events list.


See Also

Rights Rights and Freedoms

National Human Rights Commissions — what’s the point?

International Bar Association Section on Public and Professional Interests 12 October 2017 Sydney by Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM President, Australian Human Rights Commission [ Professor Croucher spoke to this paper ] ACKNOWLEDGMENTS As the Head of an Australian Government agency I begin...

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