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Annual Report 2001-2002: Chapter 1

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Annual Report 2000-2001

Chapter 1: The Commission

An Australian society in which the human rights of all are respected,
protected and promoted.


To provide leadership
on human rights through:

  • building partnerships
    with others;
  • having a constructive
    relationship with government;
  • being responsive
    to the community; and
  • promoting community
    ownership of human rights.

To ensure that

  • have access
    to independent human rights complaint handling and public inquiries
    processes; and
  • benefit from
    human rights education, promotion and monitoring and compliance activities.

As an effective
organisation, we are committed to:

  • unity of purpose;
  • valuing our
    diversity and creativity; and
  • the pursuit
    of best practice.


The Commission
is an national independent statutory body established under the Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986. It has a President
and five Commissioners. The five positions are currently held by three
persons. Please refer to the organisational chart on page 16 for further

President - Professor
Alice Tay

Professor Alice
Tay’s five year term as President of the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission commenced on 1 April 1998. She is the author
and editor, and co-author and co-editor (with the late Eugene Kamenka
and Guenther Doeker-Mach), of 24 books and over 120 articles. Her work
has been focused on socialist legal systems and legal culture (including
the former Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China and Vietnam);
comparative law;  legal theory and philosophy; jurisprudence; and
human rights. She is fluent in Russian and Chinese and specialises in
jurisprudence, legal and social philosophy, comparative, East European
and Asian/Pacific legal systems, macro-sociology of law and human rights,
and comparative constitutionalism. She was a part-time Commissioner
with the Australian Law Reform Commission, a member of the Australian
Science and Technology Council, President of the International Association
for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy and President of the National
Office of Overseas Skills Recognition. She has lectured in many countries
and was Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law, Humanities and Social
Sciences, and Visiting Fellow, in the United States, Canada, the People’s
Republic of China, Italy, Japan and Germany.

Human Rights Commissioner
and acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner -
Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM

Dr Sev Ozdowski
took up his appointment as Human Rights Commissioner in December 2000
for a five year term. Dr Ozdowski was also appointed as acting Disability
Discrimination Commissioner for a 12 month period. Previously, Dr Ozdowski
was Chief Executive of South Australia’s Office of Multicultural
and International Affairs. Dr Ozdowski has a long-term commitment to
human rights and his relationship with the Human Rights Commission dates
back to the original Commission of the early 1980s. He is the author
of many papers on sociology of law, human rights, immigration and multiculturalism.
Born in Poland in 1949, Dr Ozdowski migrated to Australia in 1975. He
has held senior positions in the Federal portfolios of the Prime Minister
and Cabinet, Attorney-General’s and Foreign Affairs and Trade.
He has also worked as Secretary of the Human Rights Commission inquiry
into the Migration Act 1958 and for the Joint Parliamentary Committee
on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

Dr Ozdowski has a Master of Laws and Master of Arts in Sociology from
Poznan University, Poland, and a PhD in Sociology of Law from the University
of New England, Armidale, NSW. He was awarded a Harkness Fellowship
in 1984 for post-doctoral work on race relations, international human
rights and immigration law and public administration - studies that
took him from Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) to Georgetown University
(Washington DC) and the University of California (Berkeley, California).
The five year term of the previous Human Rights Commissioner, Chris
Sidoti ceased on 13 August 2000.

Professor Tay acted
as the Disability Discrimination Commissioner from August to December

Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and acting Race Discrimination
Commissioner -
Dr William Jonas AM

Dr William Jonas
is a Worimi man from the Karuah River region of NSW.

Until his appointment
as Commissioner, on 6 April 1999 for five years, Dr Jonas was Director
of the National Museum of Australia. From 1991-96 he was Principal of
the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
in Canberra. Before becoming Director of Aboriginal Education at Newcastle
University in 1990, he was a lecturer in geography at the University
of Newcastle and before that at the University of Papua New Guinea.

In the mid-1980s,
Dr Jonas was a Royal Commissioner with the late Justice Jim McClelland
on the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia. He
has held positions on the Immigration Review Tribunal, the Australian
Heritage Commission and the Joint Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal
Heritage and Culture in NSW.

Dr Jonas holds
a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of NSW, a Master of Arts
degree from the University of Newcastle and a PhD from the University
of Papua New Guinea.

Dr Jonas has been
acting Race Discrimination Commissioner since September 1999.

Sex Discrimination
Commissioner - Ms Susan Halliday

The three year
term of Susan Halliday ended on 27 April, 2001. Prior to her appointment
as Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Halliday was Assistant Director
with the Business Council of Australia where she was responsible for
policy development, advocacy, coordination of research and member company
employee relations, employment, human resource management and education
and training activity.

Previously, Ms
Halliday was the Assistant Director with the private sector Council
for Equal Opportunity in Employment and also worked for BHP in a range
of positions. Over the past decade Ms Halliday has lectured at a number
of universities and was originally a secondary school teacher of History
and English.

Ms Halliday is
currently Chair of the National Centre for Women (Swinburne University)
and a board member of Australians Against Child Abuse and the Australian
Student Traineeship Foundation.

Ms Halliday was
also acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner from 1999 until December

Professor Tay acted
as Sex Discrimination Commissioner until the appointment of the new
Commissioner Ms Pru Goward in July 2001.

Deputy Disability Discrimination
Commissioner – Mr Graeme Innes AM

Mr Graeme Innes
is a lawyer and mediator, and has been an equal opportunity practitioner
for twenty years. He commenced as Deputy Disability Discrimination Commissioner
in September 1999. In this role he assists with the handling of public
enquiries, exemption applications and the development of standards under
the Disability Discrimination Act. Mr Innes has worked in this field
in NSW and WA and is currently a part-time member of four Tribunals.
Mr Innes has been active in the disability field for twenty-five years.
He has served on the Committees and Boards of numerous consumer and
service-provision organisations. He was Chair of the Disability Advisory
Council of Australia for four and a half years. He is currently President
of Royal Blind Society of NSW and one of Australia’s delegates
to the World Blind Union. Mr Innes received an A.M. in the 1995 Australian
honours for his contribution to the drafting and enactment of the Commonwealth
Disability Discrimination Act.


The Commission
is responsible for administering the following Acts:

  • Human Rights
    and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986;
  • Racial Discrimination
    Act 1975;
  • Sex Discrimination
    Act 1984; and
  • Disability
    Discrimination Act 1992.

Functions performed
under these Acts are vested in the Commission as a collegiate body,
in the President or individual members of the Commission or in the federal

Other legislation
administered through the Commission includes functions under the Native
Title Act 1993
performed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Social Justice Commissioner. The Sex Discrimination Commissioner has
functions in relation to federal awards and equal pay under the Workplace
Relations Act 1996.

Legislative changes to
the Commission

The Human Rights
Legislation Amendment Act No. 1 1999 (Cth)
received Royal Assent
on 13 October 1999. Its substantive provisions commenced on 13 April
2000. The effect of the major amendments contained in the Act is to:

  • transfer the
    power to hear complaints of unlawful discrimination from the Commission
    to the Federal Court of Australia or the Federal Magistrates Service;
  • transfer complaint
    handling powers from the Race, Sex, Disability Discrimination and
    Human Rights Commissioners to the President;
  • remove the internal
    Presidential review function from the Racial Discrimination Act, Sex
    Discrimination Act and Disability Discrimination Act, and provide
    that where a complaint of unlawful discrimination is terminated by
    the President, the complainant will be able to go directly to the
    Federal Court of Australia or the Federal Magistrates Service;
  • remove the function
    of the President or Commission to grant interim determinations and
    vest a function to grant interim injunctions in the Federal Court
    of Australia or the Federal Magistrates Service; and
  • create the role
    of amicus curiae for all Commissioners in proceedings under the amending
    legislation that are before the Federal Court of Australia or the
    Federal Magistrates Service.

Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission Act

The Human Rights
and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986
established the Commission
and outlines the Commission powers and functions. Human rights are strictly
defined, and only relate to the international instruments scheduled
to or declared under the Act. They are:

  • International
    Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
  • Convention on
    the Rights of the Child;
  • Declaration
    on the Rights of the Child;
  • Declaration
    on the Rights of Disabled Persons;
  • Declaration
    on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons; and
  • Declaration
    on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination
    Based on Religion or Belief.
  • Convention
    Concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation

Racial Discrimination

The Racial Discrimination
Act 1975 gives effect to Australia’s obligations under the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Its main aims are to:

  • promote equality
    before the law for all persons, regardless of their race, colour or
    national or ethnic origin; and
  • make discrimination
    on the basis of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin,

The Act was amended
in 1995 to provide protection against racial hatred.

Sex Discrimination Act

The Sex Discrimination
Act 1984
gives effect to Australia’s obligations under the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women and certain aspects of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)
Convention 156.

Its main aims are

  • promote equality
    between men and women;
  • eliminate discrimination
    on the basis of sex, marital status or pregnancy and, family responsibilities;
  • eliminate sexual
    harassment at work, in educational institutions, in the provision
    of goods and services, accommodation and in the delivery of Commonwealth

Disability Discrimination

The objectives
of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 are to:

  • eliminate discrimination
    against people with disabilities as far as is possible;
  • promote community
    acceptance of the principle that people with disabilities have the
    same fundamental rights as all members of the community; and
  • ensure as far
    as practicable that people with disabilities have the same rights
    to equality before the law as other people in the community.

Functions and powers

The Commission’s
responsibilities fall within four main areas:

  • public awareness
    and education;
  • anti-discrimination
    and human rights complaints;
  • human rights
    compliance; and
  • policy and legislative

In order to fulfil
its obligations, the Commission:

  • fosters public
    discussion, and undertakes and coordinates research and educational
    programs to promote human rights and eliminate discrimination in relation
    to all Acts.
  • investigates
    complaints of alleged unlawful discrimination pursuant to the Racial
    Discrimination Act, the Sex Discrimination Act and the Disability
    Discrimination Act, and attempts to resolve these matters through
    conciliation where appropriate. The President may terminate a complaint
    of alleged unlawful race, sex or disability discrimination if there
    is no reasonable prospect of settling the complaint by conciliation.
  • if a complainant
    whose complaint has been terminated, wants the complaint heard and
    determined by the Courts they must lodge an application to the Federal
    Court of Australia or the Federal Magistrates Service within 28 days
    of a notice of termination issued by the President.
  • inquires into
    acts or practices that may be contrary to a human right or that may
    be discriminatory pursuant to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
    Act. If the complaint is unable to be resolved through conciliation
    the President may report on the case and make particular recommendations.
    The Report is tabled in Parliament
  • may advise
    on legislation relating to human rights and monitor its implementation;
    may review existing and proposed legislation for any inconsistency
    with human rights or for any discriminatory provision which impairs
    equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation;
    may examine any new international instruments relevant to human rights
    and advise the Federal Government on their consistency with other
    international treaties or existing Australian law; and may propose
    laws or suggest actions the Government may take on matters relating
    to human rights and discrimination.

In order to carry
out these functions the Commission is empowered under all Acts (unless
otherwise specified) to:

1. refer individual
complaints to the President for investigation and conciliation;

2. report to
the Government on any matters arising in the course of its functions;

3. establish
advisory committees;

4. formulate
guidelines to assist in the compliance by organisations and individuals
of the requirements of human rights and anti-discrimination legislation
and conventions;

5. intervene
in court proceedings involving human rights matters;

6. grant exemptions
under certain conditions (Sex and Disability Discrimination Acts);

7. conduct national
inquiries into issues of major importance - either on its own initiative
or at the request of the Attorney-General.

Specific functions of

In addition to
the broad functions outlined above, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Social Justice Commissioner and the Sex Discrimination Commissioner
have specific responsibilities.

Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

The Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, under the Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986, prepares an annual
report on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights of Indigenous people,
and undertakes social justice education and promotional activities.

The Commissioner
also performs separate reporting functions under the Native Title Act
1993. This includes preparing an annual report on the operation of the
Act and its effect on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights of
Indigenous people. The Commissioner also reports, when requested by
the Minister, on any other matter relating to the rights of Indigenous
people under this Act.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner

The Workplace Relations
Act 1996 gives the Sex Discrimination Commissioner the power to initiate
and refer equal pay cases and other specific matters to the Industrial
Relations Commission.

The Minister

The Attorney-General,
the Honourable Daryl Williams, AM, QC, MP, is the Minister responsible
in Parliament for the Commission. He has a number of powers under the
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986.

The most significant

  • to make, vary
    or revoke an arrangement with states or territories for the performance
    of functions relating to human rights or to discrimination in employment
    or occupation;
  • to declare,
    after consultation with the states, an international instrument to
    be one relating to human rights and freedoms for the purposes of the
    Act; and
  • to establish
    an advisory committee (or committees) to advise the Commission in
    relation to the performance of its functions. The Commission will,
    at his request, report to him on Australia’s compliance with
    International Labour Organisation Convention 111 and advise him on
    national policies relating to equality of opportunity and treatment
    in employment and occupation.


The Commission
has one outcome:

Australian Society in which the human rights of all are respected, protected
and promoted.

There is one output
for the Commission’s outcome:

have access to independent human rights complaint handling and public
inquiries processes; and benefit from human rights education, promotion
and monitoring, and compliance activities.

Resources for Outcomes

Outcome 1 - An
Australian society in which the human rights of all are respected, protected
and promoted.


2000 - 2001
$ '000

2000 - 2001
$ '000
2001 - 2002
$ '000
Administered Expenses
of Department Outputs
Group 1 - Australians
have access to independent
human rights complaint handling
and public inquiry processes
and benefit from human rights
education, promotion and
monitoring and compliance
Output Group 1
from Governments
(Appropriation) for Departmental
from other sources
Price of Outputs
for Outcome (Total Price of Outputs
& Administered Expenses)
Staff (Number)

2000 -

- 2001
- 2002

"If you require
this information in a more accessible format, please contact

Rights Education & Promotion

Human rights education
and the promotion of human rights are core responsibilities of the Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

These legislative
responsibilities are:

1. to promote
an understanding and acceptance of, and compliance
with the relevant Act: HREOCA s 11(1)(g);RDA s.20(1) (b) SDA s 48(1)
(d) DDA 67(1) (g)

2. to undertake
research and education programs for the purpose of promoting the objects
of the relevant Act: HREOCA s.11(1) (h) RDA s.20(1)(c )
SDA s.48(1) (e) DDA 67(1) (h).

Human rights education
is also an international obligation which Australia has consistently
supported. In the earliest international articulation of universal human
rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the General Assembly

every individual
and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind,
shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect of these rights
and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international,
to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.

Human rights education
plays a central role in contributing to the maintenance and improvement
of a tolerant, just, equitable and democratic society.

The President of
the Commission, Professor Alice Tay, has stated that her philosophy
of human rights education is quite simple: “It is not about moralising,
telling people what is good for them. It is not about indoctrination,
trying to convince others to think as one does. It is grounded in the
gathering of knowledge, facts and information, rules and processes about
the world around us and how it works. The chief goal of human rights
education is that we become more effective members of our community
in whatever we are doing. Human rights education broadens our sensibilities
and deepens our understanding of the privileges and responsibilities
of being human. Its end is the full recognition and acceptance that
there are no sub-humans.”

All work undertaken
by the Commission has a human rights educative base.

This section details
the human rights educational programs undertaken on a whole of Commission
basis. Specific education programs conducted by individual Commissioners
are detailed later in this report.

During 2000-01
the Commission has continued to work on a number of formal education
programs aimed at key sectors of the community, particularly school

These are:

  • Youth Challenge
    program for secondary school students and teachers,
  • Human Rights
  • Internet site
    materials for individuals, schools, employers and community groups
  • Community Information
    program for peak government non-government and community organisations
  • Distribution
    of hard copy publications about the Commission
  • Media engagement,
    interviews, opinion pieces and press releases.

Challenge - ‘Human Rights/ Human Values’

The Youth Challenge
program brings together high school students in different regions of
Australia for a one-day event which explores how human rights principles
and practices impact on social change and upon the students’ own
lives and the lives of others in the community. The Commission has conducted
a series of Youth Challenges since late 1998, commencing with a National
Challenge in Sydney for over 100 students from all over Australia as
part of the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.

During 2000-01
the Commission worked with State Equal Opportunity Commissions in South
Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and the ACT to conduct
eight Challenges. The costs associated with the conduct of the Challenges
were shared between the state bodies and the Commission. Staff from
all Commissions worked very closely in achieving high attendences at
the Challenges and in producing a very successful and enjoyable day
for all students and teachers.

The Challenges
focus on real life issues such as disability discrimination in schools
and the respective rights and responsibilities of students, teachers
and parents, and the “transition to work” for students related
to potential racial and sexual discrimination and harassment that they
may experience.

Prior to the event
students and teachers receive curriculum-linked information about the
topics to be discussed at the Challenge. These papers were developed
by the Commission and distributed through Studies magazine to all Australian
secondary schools.

The Challenges
deal with issues in a creative, interactive way and include a video
hypothetical; computer-generated decision making programs and the workshopping
by students of specific tasks. The students respond through role plays
on how they would deal with the hypothetical discrimination/harassment.
The report-backs are always highly entertaining and innovative in the
ways the students deal with the issues.

Teachers, who play an important role on the day as facilitators, are
provided with basic training and materials to assist them in presenting
the Challenge when they go back to their school.

An evaluation of
each event is conducted. During the year over 800 students and 50 teachers
and community representatives attended the eight Youth Challenges. This
means that over 1150 students and 100 teachers representing over 240
schools secondary schools have participated in the Youth Challenge since
the first national Challenge in 1998.

Independent evaluation
of Studies [1] magazine show that the
human rights materials published and distributed via Studies magazine
has been very well received. The disability discrimination materials
had been used by more than 500,000 students.

The ‘transition
to work’ scenarios, which looked at sex and race discrimination,
were used by 88% of respondents with more than 630,000 students. 23%
of the students judged the articles as excellent, 51% thought they were
very good, and 24% thought they were good.

Evaluations of
the Youth Challenge day have shown a substantially increased awareness
by students of human rights and discrimination issues. With an average
of 98% of participants and 90% of teachers rating the Challenge materials
and day as excellent to very good.

The Commission
will place the Youth Challenge materials on the Commission website as
a teaching resource, and promote their availability widely. The curriculum-linked
materials will be in module format and will be supported by video and
other materials available at a nominal price for teachers. These materials
will be available in October 2001.

2000 Human Rights Medal
and Awards

The Human Rights
Medal and Awards were established in 1987 to recognise those individuals
and organisations who have made a significant contribution to the promotion
and protection of human rights and equal opportunity in Australia.

The 2000 Medal
and Awards presentation ceremony was held on 10 December 2000 at Darling
Park in Sydney. Special guest was Dr Barney Pityana, President of South
African Human Rights Commission who delivered an inspiring Human Rights
Day address to the 200 guests.

The Commission
is very grateful for the services of the judging panels who give their
time and expertise on an honorary basis. The judges were Andrea Durbach,
Faith Bandler, Peter Nugent MP, Ulrike Schuermann, Prashanth Shanmugan,
Caroline Frohmader, Michael Curtotti, Greg Thompson, Sue Zelinka, Geraldine
Walsh, Debra Jopson, Janine MacDonald, Mick O’Regan, Lew Griffiths,
David Busch, John Cleary, Nicholas Cowdrey QC, Stephen Connell and Ruth
McColl SC.

Thanks to Ansett
and Rio Tinto for sponsoring, respectively, the interstate winners and
Dr Pityana to attend the ceremony.

Human Rights Medal

Former Australian
Prime Minister the Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH was awarded the 2000
Human Rights Medal for his contribution to the advancement of human
rights in Australia and internationally. The judges said Mr Fraser had
provided national leadership in the pursuit of human rights over a long
period, including consistent support for reconciliation between Aboriginal
and non-Aboriginal Australians and leadership in the fight against racism
nationally and internationally.

Highly Commended

Dr Helen McCue
was highly commended for her outstanding work with refugees and refugee
issues over two decades. She has worked for the World Health Organisation
in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan and Bahrain before returning to Australia
in the mid-80s to establish Australia-based support networks for refugees
worldwide - setting up APHEDA, an organisation to help re-skill refugees,
and WREN (Women Refugees Action Network) to support women and children

Law Award

The Law Award,
sponsored by the Law Council of Australia, went to the Indigenous Women’s
Program at the NSW Women’s Legal Resources Centre. The Indigenous
Women’s Program is an autonomous program forming part of the Women’s
Legal Resource Centre. The program provides legal advice, outreach programs,
community education and casework particularly in the areas of criminal
and family law, child protection and family violence. The program has
been involved in writing about Aboriginal women and the law for the
NSW Law Handbook and the Indigenous Law Bulletin and contributing
to education about family violence through their training video and
comic for young people. Staff members are involved with other committees
that are looking at Aboriginal women’s access to discrimination
complaints processes and researching issues relating to Aboriginal women
in prison.

Highly Commended

Paul Richards,
a pioneer of Aboriginal Legal Services who was instrumental in range
of issues tackled by the service and the creative and innovative ways
they used to garner community support - including use of the media and
encouraging continuing community debate on issues such as the impact
of mandatory sentencing on people with an intellectual disability. The
judges said the service tackled difficult issues and sometimes advocated
a course of action that ran counter to prevailing community and political

Highly Commended

Refugee Council
of Australia for policy review, advocacy, education and support for
the refugee community in Australia and People with Disabilities (NSW)
Inc. for outstanding advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities.

Television Award

Paul Roberts, Des
Kootji Raymond and Archie Roach for Land of the Little Kings,
a documentary about the Stolen Generation aired on SBS TV in early 2000.
Paul Roberts and Des Kootji Raymond are independent filmmakers who have
worked in partnership for six years. They have a definite agenda to
present contemporary stories that tell the truth and promote human equality.

The Land of
the Little Kings
is a feature-length documentary about stolen generation
and state-of-the-nation issues, narrated by Archie Roach. This program
was aired on SBS in early 2000 and received critical acclaim. This documentary
represents a high point in the collaboration between Roberts and Raymond.

Highly Commended

ABC TV Comedy,
The Games, for the episode on Reconciliation (Series 2, Episode 3).

Radio Award

Gary Bryson and
John Cochrane, ABC Radio National, won for their four-part series on
the history of race and racism called Empires of Division.
Judges expressed difficulty in choosing between an experiential entry
such as Bewitched and Empires of Division, which was well researched
and covered a huge range of issues.

They decided Empires
of Division
was the winner because of the scope of the issues presented
and the breath of research, as well as the potential for a much greater
understanding of the causes of racism. The judges congratulated the
program producers on the impressive research undertaken and the quality
of the presentation. They noted that they did not necessarily agree
with some of the analysis of the causes of racism, but found the overall
analysis to be impressive and thought provoking. They suggested that
the program would be an excellent educative tool for students and for
the general public.

Highly Commended

Natalie Kestecher
and Steve Tilley, ABC Radio Arts Program, for Bewitched - Living
with Tourette’s Syndrome
and Stephen Watkins, ABC Radio National
for Asylum Seekers.

Print Award

Indigenous Law
, published by The Indigenous Law Centre, Faculty of Law,
University of NSW won the print award for its coverage of Indigenous
law issues from mandatory sentencing to traditional hunting and fishing
rights. The Indigenous Law Bulletin was created in conjunction with
the establishment of the Indigenous Law Centre in 1981 in order to facilitate
the promotion and discussion on matters of law and policy relating to
Aboriginal Legal Services and land Councils. The publication has served
to promote and overcome discrimination and infringement of human rights
and promote harmony between Indigenous and other Australians.

Highly Commended

Greg Bearup, Sydney
Morning Herald, for the feature article Mean Streets.

Arts Non-Fiction

Carolyn Landon
and Daryl Tonkin for the book Jackson’s Track: Memoir of a Dreamtime
e, a story about the life of Daryl Tonkin and his beloved Aboriginal
wife Euphemia who, from the 1930s to the present, lived and worked along
Jackson’s Track in Gippsland in South Eastern Victoria.

The judges were
unanimous in awarding the Arts Non-Fiction Award to Daryl Tonkin and
Carolyn Landon for Jackson’s Track. The story of Daryl Tonkin’s
life at Jackson’s Track in the Gippsland region of south-eastern
Victoria and his experiences as a white man who defied convention by
marrying across race ‘lines’ and living with an Aboriginal
community in the 1930s and 40s. It is an inspiring story of loyalty,
honesty, and the human connections that can transcend racial differences.

Highly Commended

John Moriarty for
his biographical book Saltwater Fella.



The Commission’s
website is a major educative tool; and is used widely by government,
legal, community and employer organizations, the media, schools and
individuals to obtain information about human rights and responsibilities
and anti-discrimination law and practice.

The site was moved
to a new hosting service and redesigned in February 2001 to further
enhance the accessibility and usability of the Commission’s web
resources for all users. Improvements to the site include:

  • General look
    and feel updated to create a more current and consistent style across
    the entire site.
  • Navigation options
    and search functionality has been enhanced to provide users with quicker,
    easier access to the information they are seeking.
  • New Online
    Publications have been created in more usable, accessible and appealing
  • Accessibility
    for people with disabilities has been further enhanced in line with
    both the National Office of the Information Economy (NOIE) and World
    Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines. The Disability Rights section
    of the site is particularly accessible and provides a good example
    of ‘best-practice’ in web design for users with a disability.

The Commission’s
website is maintained to ensure that the most up to date information
is posted daily, and all reports, submissions, media releases and other
Commission publications are available online. The site also provides
specific information pages and publications for schools including Youth
Challenge – a collection of resources for teachers and students;

the Pregnancy Guidelines which provide information for employers;
and Information in Other Languages which provides
information for people from non-English speaking backgrounds about the
Commission, the complaint handling process and the law. An Online Complaint
form has also been set up and allows individual’s to lodge complaints
with the Commission electronically.

The Commission’s
e-mail based Electronic Mailing List service is also provided for regular
communications to all constituency groups including community, and government.
Instructions on joining the Commission’s Electronic Mailing list
service are available at

There are currently
more than 7000 subscribers across fifteen different lists including
the Children and Youth list (approx 2000 subscribers) , the Disability
Rights Update
(approx 1000 subscribers), the Indigenous Issues
(approx 600 subscribers), the Racial Discrimination Issues
(approx 700 subscribers) and the Sex Discrimination Issues
list (approx 1000 subscribers).

The Commission’s
site also provides an online web feedback for which allows users to
request help with research and provide feedback on the Commission’s
online resources. Thousands of messages have been received from, legal,
government, community and employer organisations, the media, schools
and individuals during the year and are responded to by Commission staff
within 5 working days.

During rehosting,
an improved Web Statistics system was implemented. This allows the Commission
to track how visitors are using the site, and allows us to identify
materials that are particularly successful or popular. Usage of the
site has increased over the year with approximately 18,766,360 hits
on the server during the 2000–01 financial year
(a daily average
of over 50,000 hits per day). This translates to approximately 2,268,000
web pages viewed on the site during the 2000–01 financial year.

A summary of statistical
information is provided below:

  • The Commission
    home page - 175, 520 page views
  • The Aboriginal
    and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice section home page - 25,
    876 page views
  • The Complaints
    Information section home page - 13, 524 page views
  • The Disability
    Rights section home page - 40, 932 page views
  • The Human Rights
    section home page - 28, 044 page views
  • The Racial Discrimination
    section home page - 28, 480 page views
  • The Sex Discrimination
    section home page - 36, 732 page views
  • The Frequently
    Asked Questions - 11, 564 page views
  • The Publications
    page - 12, 836 page views

Note: All statistics
above are based on page views during the 2000–01 financial year.

Community Information

During the reporting
year the Public Affairs Section and the Complaint Handling Section of
the Commission continued an information program targeting peak community
sector organisations, commonwealth agencies, employers and legal and
service providers.

Other details of
this program conducted by the Complaint Handling Section is contained
later in this report.

The Public Affairs
Section conducted week long sessions in Queensland, Western Australia
and ACT with a range of federal and local government agencies, as well
as peak legal disability, women and ethnic groups. Information was provided
about human rights and anti-discrimination laws and the role and function
of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Over 300 people
representing senior and middle management in government legal and community
groups attended the presentations.

Evaluations of
the presentations show they are very useful in providing information
about human rights and anti-discrimination law and practices in Australia.

The presentations
are supported by a Complaints Help Page on the Commission web site

of hard copy publications about the Commission

In addition to
all Commission publications being made available on the Commission website,
during the reporting year, some 99, 514 publications were dispatched
in hard copy format.

The most requested
publications were brochures about the Sex Discrimination Act and the
Guide to Making a Complaint to the Commission, followed by the updated
version of Face the Facts.

list of all new publications can be found at Appendix 2.

Media engagement
and press releases

The media is a
very valuable tool in the delivery of information to the general public
about human rights and equal opportunity. The Commission wherever appropriate
engages with all forms of media to emphasise the importance of an independent
national human rights institution and to preserve the integrity of human
rights and anti-discrimination law within Australia.

Media activity
has been intense over the past year with media preparation for the tabling
in Federal Parliament of the Native Title and Social Justice
reports 2000; the launch of the Workplace Pregnancy Guidelines and
International Women’s Day activities; launch of open-captioned
movies and development of disability action plans for the banking industry;
and the launch of Face the Facts.

This is in addition
to the many reports and other publications that have been produced by
the Commission and detailed later in this report.

Individual Commissioners
have contributed to public debate on a range of issues including the
‘IVF Bill’, the Flood report into immigration detention centres
and the Commission’s report into Curtin immigration detention centre
and reform of the UN Treaty system.

Some 80 press releases
have been issued by the President and the Commissioners during 2000-01.
These can be found on the Commission website at:

A selection of
speeches and opinion pieces that have been published in major newspapers
from the President and individual Commissioners is available for viewing

Studies is a privately produced educational resource magazine. It is
sent out to all secondary schools throughout Australia three times a
year. The Commission produced several articles for placement in three
editions of the magazine during 1999-2000.)