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Annual Report 06-07: Significant Achievements

Annual
Report
2006—2007

© Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
2007

ISSN 1031–5098

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Public Affairs
Unit

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission

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Sydney NSW 2000
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The 2006–07 Annual Report is available on
HREOC’s website at: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/publications/annual_reports/2006_2007/

 


18 September 2007

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP
Attorney-General
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Attorney-General

I
have pleasure in presenting the Annual Report of the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission for the period ending 30 June 2007, pursuant to section
45 of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986. The
report has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of
section
 70
of the Public Service Act 1999.

Yours sincerely,

The Hon. John von Doussa
QC

President
Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

 


Significant
Achievements

  • The Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry put federal
    laws under the human rights microscope. It found that 58 laws discriminate
    against more than 20 000 Australian same-sex couples - simply because of who
    they love. The report and community guide was officially launched in Sydney on
    22 June 2007.
  • HREOC undertook several projects commemorating the
    10th anniversary of the Bringing them home report and
    coincided with commemorative events for the 40th Anniversary of the
    1967 Referendum.
  • The Social Justice Commissioner, along with project
    partners, continued to promote the Indigenous Health Equality campaign through
    promotional events, speeches and information resources.
  • The Sex Discrimination Unit’s major project
    throughout this reporting year was the women, men, work and family project,
    which entered its final stage with the launch of the It’s About Time:
    Women, men, work and family
    final paper in March 2007. The launch was
    followed up by a number of community, business and academic forums around the
    country to disseminate the findings of the paper and gather feedback on the
    paper’s recommendations.
  • HREOC developed a number of projects aimed at supporting
    Muslim communities in defending themselves against religious abuse and hatred.
    These included: the Unlocking Doors Project aimed at facilitating a
    dialogue between Muslim communities and police; and a Muslim women’s forum
    on human rights, entitled Living Spirit: Muslim Women and Human Rights
    Project
    – the right to participate in social change.
  • HREOC welcomed the adoption of the Convention on the
    Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2006 by the United Nations
    General Assembly, and applauded the Australian Government’s signing of the
    Convention on 30 March 2007. HREOC hosted a workshop on 27-28 June on the new
    Convention for representatives of disability peak organisations, disability
    advisory bodies and state and territory equal opportunity agencies.
  • Action Plans under the Disability Discrimination Act provide an
    important mechanism for organisations to structure their own compliance efforts.
    As at 30 June 2007, 516 plans were registered with HREOC (an increase from 368
    in June 2006).
  • HREOC contributed to policy development and legislative
    review through the many submissions made during the reporting period. These were
    on a range of issues including: Aboriginal land rights, Australian citizenship,
    the Commonwealth access card, pay equity and counter-terrorism
    measures.
  • One report of a breach of human rights was completed under
    the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth).
  • HREOC considered intervening in nine court cases that
    raised human rights issues and made an application to intervene in two matters.
    During 2006-07, Commissioners were granted leave to appear as amicus
    curiae
    in five unlawful discrimination cases.
  • The Legal Section organises seminars on topics of current
    interest in domestic or international human rights law. During 2006-07, seminars
    were held on: recent issues in Australia’s legal response to terrorism,
    stolen wages – the way forward, and native title - developments in case
    law and practice.
  • HREOC’s most substantial international program involvement is with
    the China-Australia Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program (HRTC), which is
    an integral part of Australia’s annual inter-governmental Dialogue on
    Human Rights with China. HREOC also participates in the annual Australia-Vietnam
    Dialogue on International Organisations and Legal Issues, including Human
    Rights. HREOC attended the 2007 Dialogue held in Hanoi in April 2007. HREOC also
    participated in the Laos-Australia Human Rights Dialogue meeting, held in
    Vientiane in October 2006.
  • Over the past four reporting years HREOC has received, on
    average, around 10 000 enquiries each year. In 2006-07, 16 606 enquiries were
    dealt with by the Complaint Information Service.
  • Over the past four reporting years HREOC has received, on
    average, around 1250 complaints each year. In 2006-07 HREOC received 1779
    complaints.
  • While there was an increase in the number of complaints
    received in this reporting year, the Complaint Handling Section finalised 94
    percent of matters within 12 months – a slight improvement on figures for
    the previous reporting year. Thirty-eight percent were finalised by conciliation
    – this is consistent with the conciliation rate for the previous three
    reporting years.
  • In 2006-07 HREOC issued 172 media releases and alerts, the
    President and Commissioners had 18 opinion pieces published in major metro
    newspapers across Australia and have conducted approximately 800 media
    interviews. This represents an increase of 70 percent in media releases and 25
    percent in media interviews from the previous reporting year.
  • Usage of HREOC’s website has increased by 50 percent
    from the previous year. There were 12 612 942 page views in 2006-07 equating to
    85 281 017 hits on the site in total.
  • HREOC’s online human rights education resources are
    widely used by educators, both nationally and internationally. During 2006-07,
    the resources received 1 140 587 page views. This is an increase of 25 percent
    on usage of the online education resources since the previous financial
    year.
  • In addition to all HREOC publications being made available
    on HREOC’s website, around 100 000 publications were dispatched in
    hardcopy format during 2006–07.
  • The most popular publications were Face the Facts,
    Voices of Australia (magazine and CD), Good Practice, Good
    Business
    CD and The Complaint Guide.