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HREOC - Annual Report 2001 - 2002: Chapter 1: The Commission

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

Annual Report 2001-2002

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
  • promoting
    community ownership of human rights.

To ensure that

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

As an effective
organisation, we are committed to:

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


The Commission
is a 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

President - Professor
Alice Tay AM

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.

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.

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

Dr Sev Ozdowski
took up his appointment as Human Rights Commissioner in December 2000
for a five year term. 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, New South Wales. 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).

Dr Ozdowski has
been acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner since December

Sex Discrimination Commissioner
- Ms Pru Goward

Journalist, broadcaster
and commentator Pru Goward was appointed Federal Sex Discrimination
Commissioner for a five year term from 30 July 2001.

Ms Goward has
worked closely on issues of women's rights for several years, heading
the Federal women's policy advisory unit, the Office of the Status
of Women, from 1997 to 1999. She was appointed First Assistant Secretary
of the Office, which reports directly to the Office of Prime Minister
and Cabinet, after working as a national affairs journalist and political
commentator for 19 years.

At the Office
of the Status of Women, Ms Goward presided over the introduction of
the first national program for the prevention of domestic violence
- the largest program run by OSW with a budget of $50 million. She
also oversaw the introduction of reform to superannuation laws for
divorced couples.

Ms Goward completed
an Economics degree with Honours from the University of Adelaide while
teaching high school in Adelaide during the 1970s. She later tutored
at the University while conducting Masters research. Over the past
10 years she has also run her own media management company, was a
freelance newspaper and magazine columnist and a part-time lecturer
in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Canberra.

Just prior to
taking up the role of Sex Discrimination Commissioner, she was National
Director of the Australian Property Institute. Ms Goward is also on
the boards of the John Curtin School of Medical Research and the Neuroscience
Institute for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders. She is Official
Patron of the ANU Australian Rules Football Club.


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
  • 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 Attorney-General.

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.

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 the:

    • 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
    • Declaration
      on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination
      Based on Religion or Belief
    • Convention
      Concerning Discrimination in R
      espect 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
  • make discrimination
    on the basis of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin,
  • 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 to:

  • 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
  • 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.
  • Unlawful
    discrimination and human rights complaints.
  • Human rights
  • Policy and
    legislative development.

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, for
    example there is no reasonable prospect of settling the complaint
    by conciliation or the complaint is lacking in substance. 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
    and is not discontinued for other reasons 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
inquiries into issues of major importance, either on its own initiative,
or at the request of the Attorney-General.

8. Examine

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

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 to the Industrial Relations

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
  • 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:

An 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


Administered Expenses

of Department Outputs
Output 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 Government (Appropriation) for Departmental Outputs
from other sources
Price of Outputs
for Outcome (Total Price of Outputs and Administered Expenses)


years (number)

rights education and promotion

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

The legislative
responsibilities are:

1. To promote
an understanding and acceptance of, and compliance with, the relevant

  • Human Rights
    and Equal Opportunity Commission Act section 11(1)(g)
  • Racial Discrimination
    Act section 20(1)(b)
  • Sex Discrimination
    Act section 48(1)(d)
  • Disability
    Discrimination Act 67(1)(g).

2. To undertake
research and education programs for the purpose of promoting the objects
of the relevant Act:

  • Human Rights
    and Equal Opportunity Commission Act section 11(1)(h)
  • Racial Discrimination
    Act section 20(1)(c)
  • Sex Discrimination
    Act section 48(1)(e)
  • Disability
    Discrimination Act section 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 proclaimed

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.

All work undertaken
by the Commission has a human rights educative base from individual
complaint handling to the conduct of a National Inquiry.

This section
details the human rights educational and promotional programs undertaken
on a whole of Commission basis.

These are:

  • Human Rights
    Medal and Awards
  • Online human
    rights education for teachers and students
  • Website materials
    for individuals, schools, employers and community groups
  • Distribution
    of hard copy publications about the Commission
  • Media engagement,
    interviews, opinion pieces and press releases
  • Community

Specific educational
and promotional programs conducted by individual Commissioners are
detailed later in this Report.

2001 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

The 2001 Medal
and Awards presentation ceremony was held on 9 December 2001 at Star
Court Darling Harbour in Sydney. Special guest was Professor Gillian
Triggs, who delivered a paper entitled Contemporary Human Rights
Law and Practice
to 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 for the 2001 Medal
and Awards were Rt Hon Ian Sinclair AC, Justice Elizabeth Evatt AC,
Ms Jackie Huggins AM, Mr Nicholas Cowdery QC, Justice Catherine Branson,
Ms Ruth McColl SC, Mr Mark Davis, Dr David McKnight, Ms Vivian Schenker,
Dr Peter O'Brien, Mr Nick Xynias AO BEM, Ms Faye Druitt, Mr Jose Borghino
and Dr Andrew Riemer.

Information on
the 2001 winners can be found below. For details on the individuals
and organisations who were highly commended please visit the Commission's
website at

Human Rights Medal

Winner: The
late Dr Arnold "Puggy" Hunter (1951-2001)

The late Dr Arnold

Dr Hunter's fearless
advocacy and outstanding leadership in the important area of Indigenous
health earned him the respect of a wide range of people. While he
fought uncompromisingly for the cause of Aboriginal health, Dr Hunter
was regarded respectfully, even affectionately, by his counterparts
in politics and government. Upon his untimely and recent death, tributes
to Dr Hunter poured in from around Australia - the Australian Medical
Association, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission,
federal politicians, and medical boards expressed their loss and sadness.
The Award acknowledges Dr Hunter's unwavering commitment over many
years to improving Aboriginal health in the face of hostility, disruption
to his family, financial hardship and his own health.

As the inaugural
Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health
Organisation since 1991 until his death, Dr Hunter had worked far
beyond the level of his professional responsibility. He was a member
of several key Aboriginal health policy and advisory groups. He negotiated
framework agreements on Aboriginal health to improve the coordination
of health service delivery by all spheres of government. He also negotiated
Medicare agreements with the Federal Health Minister to give the Aboriginal
Community Health Services the legal ability to bulk bill Medicare
and arrangements under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to supply
medicines through Aboriginal health services in remote areas.

Community Award

Winner: Women
With Disabilities Australia

Established in
1994, Women With Disabilities Australia has achieved an enormous amount
in a short period of time, working tirelessly on behalf of one of
the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Australia. The group
is the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities,
linking similar local and regional organisations across Australia.
Its central aim is to improve the status of women with disabilities
through education, support, information, and systemic and individual

Although it has
a domestic focus, the organisation has provided inspiration for women
with disabilities all over the world and is often consulted by groups
internationally, from the USA to the Ukraine. The organisation has
achieved not only a high profile for itself, but advanced the interests
of a previously marginalised group nationally. In early 2000, the
organisation was invited by the United Nations to apply for the UN
Millennium Peace Prize for Women. Women With Disabilities,
Australia and its Executive Director Ms Carolyn Frohmader have received
several other awards in recognition of their work.

Law Award

Winner: HIV/AIDS
Legal Centre

The Law Award,
sponsored by the Law Council of Australia, went to the HIV/AIDS Legal
Centre. Operating with a small staff of just one full-time solicitor
and two part-time support staff, the HIV/AIDS Legal Centre provides
people living with HIV/AIDS with legal advice, and conducts law reform
and community education projects in their interests. Over the past
year they provided legal advice and representation to 666 clients.
Areas of legal advocacy undertaken by the Centre include discrimination
and vilification complaints, unfair dismissal, superannuation and
insurance claims, complaints relating to medical and health services,
and guardianships. The legal advice they provide is free - appropriate
given the economic hardship which is faced by many living with HIV/AIDS.
They also provide a broad range of legal services, from face-to-face
advice through to legal representation in casework matters, and a
hospital outreach service.

General Media Award

Winner: ABC
Radio National - The Health Report. The Health of Asylum Seekers
in Detention
. Reporter: Ms Toni Hassan

Toni Hassan accepting the Human Rights Media Award 2001 for

This special
report highlighted the health concerns, both physical and mental,
of asylum seekers in detention centres. The report included interviews
with a number of leading mental health and medical professionals,
who gave disturbing testimony about the health of detainees. One of
the practitioners interviewed is himself a detainee. The judges commended
this entry for its deliberate reluctance to engage in debate about
the legitimacy of refugee claims, focusing instead on the issue of
conditions in detention centres. While there has been a breadth of
media reportage and commentary on the issue of asylum seekers, much
of this focus has been on whether such persons ought to be allowed
entry into Australia. The experiences of those asylum seekers in the
detention centres have remained peripheral to these discussions. The
judges were also impressed by the extensive field work undertaken
by Ms Hassan.

Winner: Four
Corners, ABC Television. Inside Story. Producer: Mr Peter McEvoy,
Reporter: Ms Debbie Whitmont

The judges said
while they acknowledged the controversial nature of the program they
were impressed with the human side of detention presented by the program.
They said these were the voices that the Australian public had not
heard before. Seeing asylum seekers as human beings, possibly for
the first time, prompted many viewers to contact the Four Corners
online forum about the show. About 5 000 people contacted the forum.
Critics of the report, much of which was filmed inside the Villawood
Detention Centre, said it contained factual errors and did not present
a balanced view of conditions in detention centres. The producers
denied the claims, saying they were based on a wilful misreading of
the program. The judges said the program succeeded in expanding the
debate over asylum seekers beyond the mere question of whether the
claims of asylum seekers are legitimate. The result was a first person
account of asylum seekers' experiences in detention in Australia.

Arts Non-Fiction Award

Winner: Borderline,
Mr Peter Mares

Peter Mares'
Borderline is a thoroughly researched yet tightly written book
about Australia's treatment of asylum seekers. Mr Mares, the presenter
of Asia Pacific on Radio Australia and Radio National, urges a more
compassionate approach to asylum seekers while acknowledging the very
real difficulties, in a political and practical sense, of implementing
refugee policy.

The book is the
culmination of extensive research into the legal and policy framework
for asylum seekers and refugees entering Australia - and a collection
of individual, sometimes heart wrenching, stories. The judges said
the book was by far the most outstanding entry - an honest, thoughtful
and powerful work. They said Peter Mares was able to identify and
discuss the human rights issues surrounding asylum seekers without
being politically partisan or doctrinaire.

Online human rights education
for teachers and students

In 2001-02, the
Commission developed a structured human rights education program for
teachers of upper primary and secondary students. The program responds
to growing demands for education resources of this kind, and the relative
absence of such published material.

The material
is available online from the Commission's main site. Materials are
also available for download so that teachers need only have internet
access once. The program consists of:

  • Online education
    modules (such as Youth Challenge).
  • Current Issues
  • Human rights
    education promotion, including making links with curricula.
  • External
    human rights education resource collection.
  • Electronic
    mailing list.

The success of
the Commission's education program was underscored when Youth Challenge
was short listed for the The Australian's '2002 Awards for
Excellence in Educational Publishing'.

The program is
based on a critical pedagogy which focuses on the learning needs of
all students, rather than the subject matter. This approach goes beyond
merely teaching about international instruments and domestic laws,
as valuable as these are to human rights education.

This teaching
approach is:

  • Contextual:
    human rights are discussed in social contexts relevant to the learners.
  • Discursive:
    learning is based on discussion, exchanging ideas and values, understanding
    human communication.
  • Skills-oriented:
    human rights education develops skills, and is linked with literacy,
    numeracy and decision making skills (again, learner focused rather
    than subject area focused).
  • Cross-curricular:
    human rights, as human experience, are relevant to all aspects of
    learning, including numeracy and visual literacy.
  • Inclusive:
    allows all students, regardless of their learning styles/abilities,
    to participate.

This approach
builds on trends in school and tertiary education that are developing
across disciplines.

Youth Challenge
- Teaching human rights and responsibilities

Youth Challenge - Teaching human rights and responsibilities - Promotional Postcard

Launched in late
2001, this was the first component of the Commission's education program.
The module is an introduction to issues of human rights and discrimination
in everyday life.

With Youth
, students focus on real life issues such as sex, race
and disability discrimination, sexual harassment, and rights in the
workplace. It encourages students to explore the relevance of human
rights to their own experiences and communities.

The online program
is broken into three distinct units:

1. Human Rights
in the Classroom.
2. Case Study 1: Doug and Disability Discrimination.
3. Case Study 2: Young People in the Workplace.

Using video material,
stories and exercises, the materials draw on a range of skills including
research, literacy, discussion, decision making and role playing.
There is even a Human Rights Treasure Hunt.

Youth Challenge
offers secondary school teachers a resource that is flexible and
comprehensive. The materials can be used across many curricular areas
including History, English, Civics/Citizenship, Legal Studies, and
Studies of Society and Environment. The site provides teaching strategies,
guides and worksheets that are easy to access.

The module was
officially launched by Professor Alice Tay on 7 December 2001. Three
guest speakers from the education sector, together with Senator Marise
Payne, gave presentations on the importance of human rights education
in schools. The launch was attended by over 80 people, mainly representatives
from schools, education unions, peak youth agencies, technical colleges,
peak education bodies and education department staff.

Information for Teachers

Information for Teachers - Promotional Postcard

Following the
success of Youth Challenge, the Commission developed an online
portal specifically for teachers, accessible from the main Commission

Teachers can
now access a range of teaching materials on human rights from this
Information for Teachers portal. The section is regularly updated
to provide teachers with the most recent quality materials.

The portal is
the online framework for this education program. It contains:

  • Education
    Youth Challenge and other education modules.
  • Current
    Issues Series:
    issue focused sets of activities added each month.
  • Human Rights
    links to external human rights resources for teachers.
  • HR Education
    Mailing List:
    an electronic mailing list with monthly updates.

The Information
for Teachers
portal received special mention in the August 2002
issue of magazine.

Current Issues Series

The Commission
receives requests from teachers and students each day for material
on current human rights issues. Responding to this need, the Commission
developed a current issues series, with a new issue each month.

The first of
these was developed in May 2002 - The Stolen Generations. With the
release of Rabbit-Proof Fence, a major feature film, the Commission
prepared teaching activities linking the film and book (by Doris Pilkington)
to Bringing them home and the National Inquiry into the Separation
of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families.
The activities direct teacher and student interest in the film/book
to the Inquiry report

Bringing Them Home - Promotional Postcard

A second was
developed in July 2002 focusing on the paid maternity leave campaign.
The activities demonstrate to students how paid maternity leave raises
issues of sex discrimination and equal opportunity that are directly
relevant to their lives. For example, it includes a case study on
Marla - a 16 year old considering her future career and personal directions.

The Current
Issues Series
is intended both to respond to the needs of teachers
as well as to compliment policy priorities of the Commission.

Bringing them home
- Stories from the Stolen Generations

The Commission
is currently developing an online education module on Bringing them
home, the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families.

The module adopts
the theme of oral history and story telling as its approach to teaching
about the Inquiry. The stories of individuals and communities, together
with the histories of assimilation and state-sanctioned removal are
the key elements.

Taking into consideration
different learning skills, the module provides two sets of materials.
One for junior students and one for senior students, as well as resource
materials for tertiary level students.

The module will

  • personal stories
    from the Inquiry
  • a history
    of laws and practices in each State and Territory
  • a brief history
    of colonisation in Australia and overseas
  • the effects
    and experiences of removals
  • recommendations
    from the Inquiry
  • the issue's
    connection with other Indigenous social justice issues, such as
    self determination, reconciliation and criminal justice.

It will also
contain a number of online interactive elements.

The module is
due for completion in October 2002.

Human rights and the curriculum

A strategy has
been developed by the Commission to link the curriculum framework
of the various state education departments with human rights education
and Youth Challenge materials. South Australia was the first
state where such links were made. The Human Rights Education Officer
with the Commission presented these materials at a teachers' conference
in March 2002 in South Australia where it received very positive feedback.
The Commission is currently developing similar links with curricula
in other states and territories. The advantages of this strategy are
that teachers are encouraged to teach about human rights and responsibilities
by being provided with interesting and relevant curriculum-based materials.

Every addition
to the Commission's education program includes a comprehensive set
of teaching notes responding to current teaching needs and pedagogies.
The activities are structured to a set of learning outcomes and point
to relevant curriculum areas. The Commission's Education Officer as
been invited to a number of State Teachers Conferences to present
the strategy and talk about the education materials.

Promoting online education

In addition to
developing this material, the Commission has actively promoted the
online education program, targeting teachers across Australia. A promotional
strategy was developed and executed. Below are the main promotional

Posters and

The Commission
developed a poster and postcard series for Youth Challenge
and sent them to over 3 000 schools nationally. Both are available
as downloads from the website. The Commission also developed postcards
for the Information for Teachers portal and each set of activities
in the Current Issues Series. These are distributed across
teacher organisations, curriculum development bodies, education networks
and education journals.

mailing list

The Commission
adopted a direct marketing approach by using a mailing list with 3
000 self-subscribed educators. The monthly updates include:

  • a link to
    the most recent set of activities under the Current Issues Series
  • reviews and
    links to human rights education resources
  • reviews of
    particular sections of the Commission's website that are useful
    for educators
  • a list of
    upcoming human rights education events.

and editorial

The Commission
placed advertisements in the main education serials/journals for each
State and Territory. Advertisements were included in Newsmonth
(Independent Education Union, NSW/ACT), Education (NSW
Teachers' Federation), Western Teacher (State School Teachers'
Union of WA), The Independent Voice (Journal of the Queensland
Independent Education Union) and AEU News (Australian Education
Union, Victoria). The next period of advertising is planned after
the launch of the Bringing them home module.

Professor Alice
Tay's speech at the launch of Youth Challenge has appeared in most
of the abovementioned journals.

Links with
teacher networks

The Commission
has established links with a number of educators' networks. We are
also contacted by these networks for resource support, cross hyperlinking
and to give presentations at conferences.

The Commission
also works to include links to our program on other websites. In particular,
the national online education resource, EdNA Online, regularly
features information on our education program.

Ongoing evaluation

Since launching
Youth Challenge, the Commission has set up a number of evaluation
processes, allowing feedback for teachers and opportunities for teachers
to make recommendations.

The first of
these was a survey distributed with video purchases seeking feedback
on how Youth Challenge is used in classes - the year levels,
subject areas, sections being used and for what period of time (one
class, one week etc). Feedback via the evaluation form is being used
to develop education materials better tailored to the needs of teachers.

The feedback
form is also available online. Surveys received to date are extremely
positive. Youth Challenge has been used to teach subjects such
as Junior Civics, Social Justice, Legal Studies and Religious Studies.

A human rights
education email address was set up to deal with correspondence from
teachers. The Commission is regularly contacted by teachers through
this address, both in relation to Commission material but also to
speak at events, recommend other education material on topics not
covered by the Commission, and general support on human rights education.
Approximately 30-50 queries are received each month.

Since the launch
of the Information for Teachers portal in May 2002, the section
has received over 30 000 page views (15 May 2002-30 June 2002).

Since the launch
of Youth Challenge in December 2001, the section has received
over 25 000 page views.

Complaint services promotion

The Commission
actively promotes its complaint handling and complaint information
services and other functions to targeted communities. A pilot program
was undertaken in 2002 to advise in particular people of Vietnamese
and Arabic speaking backgrounds and Indigenous Australians of these

The Commission
ran advertisements with a number of community radio stations promoting
the 1300 Complaint Infoline. The advertisements ran for a four week
period in Sydney. Advertisements were also placed in three Indigenous
newspapers monthly or bi-monthly over a six month period. Further,
advertisements were placed in the New South Wales and Victorian monthly
Law Journal for six months promoting the Commission's online complaint
form and 1300 Complaint Infoline.

Some material
about race discrimination complaints was prepared and distributed
widely to Indigenous media, to accompany the advertising campaign
in the Indigenous newspapers and to be used in its own right by other
Indigenous media organisations to illustrate the sort of complaints
received by the Commission.

Translation of brochures

While information
on the website of the Commission is mainly in English, we have translated
some material into other languages.

The two main
translations were of the Complaint Guide and the Commission's
general information brochure. They were translated into:

  • Arabic
  • Bosnian
  • Chinese
  • Croatian
  • Farsi
  • French
  • Greek
  • Indonesian
  • Polish
  • Serbian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese.

The translations
are available from the Commission's website at
in HTML and PDF formats.

website -

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

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.

Major additions and improvements

Major additions
and improvements to the site in 2001-02 include:

  • Online Complaint
    Form established on the site to enable complainants to lodge their
    complaint with the Commission electronically.
  • Development
    of a new Legal Information section, which contains a range of legal
    resources and links relevant to the work of Legal Services.
  • Improvements
    to the Commission's metadata records to ensure easier access to
    Commission materials from government portals and other search engines.
  • Implementation
    of the new Information for Teachers website, which provides human
    rights resources and links for use in Australian classrooms.
  • Development
    of a number of mini-sites within the Commission's main website to
    provide information on a range of events and issues including: Moving
    Forward: Achieving Reparations for the Stolen Generations conference,
    World Conference Against Racism, Human Rights Awards 2001, Beyond
    Tolerance Conference, United Nations Special Session on Children,
    National Human Rights Dialogue, Paid Maternity Leave and the National
    Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention.

Electronic mailing lists
and feedback facility

The Commission's
email based electronic mailing list service provides for regular communications
to all constituency groups including community and government. Instructions
on joining the Commission's electronic mailing list service are available

There are currently
more than 11 900 subscribers across 10 different lists including:

  • Children
    and Youth Issues - 2 496 subscribers.
  • Disability
    Rights Update - 1 026 subscribers.
  • Human Rights
    Education - 2 597 subscribers.
  • Human Rights
    Issues - 835 subscribers.
  • Indigenous
    Issues - 695 subscribers.
  • Racial Discrimination
    Issues - 767 subscribers.
  • Sex Discrimination
    Issues - 1 215 subscribers.

Website feedback

The Commission's
feedback facility allows users to request help with research and provide
constructive feedback on the Commission's online resources and site
accessibility. 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 five working days.


The Commission
uses a web statistics system which tracks the number of visitors the
site has and how visitors are using the site. This allows the Commission
to identify materials that are particularly successful or popular
and where we have room for improvement.

Usage of the
site has increased over the year with approximately 3 205 693 page
views on the server during 2001-02, an increase of 937 693 page views
compared to 2 268 000 page views in 2000-01.

A summary of
statistical information is provided below. Please note that page views
by Commission staff are not included in these figures.

page views
section page views *
Commission's homepage
& Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Information #
for Teachers ##
for Students
Challenge - Teaching Human Rights and Responsibilities ###
Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention

Page views for all pages within this section.
# The Legal Information section was launched in March 2002.
## The Information for Teachers website was launched in May 2002.
### The Youth Challenge website was launched in December 2001.
#### The National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention website
was launched in November 2001.

Distribution of hard copy

In addition to
all Commission publications being made available on the Commission's
website, during the reporting year, some 95 374 publications were
dispatched in hard copy format.

The most popular
publications were Face the Facts: Some Questions and Answers about
Immigration, Refugees and Indigenous Affairs
, the Commission's
Complaint Guide, and the postcards Youth Challenge and
Information for Teachers.

A list of publications
released during 2001-02 can be found at Appendix
of this Report.

Media engagement

Engagement with
the media is a crucial aspect of the Commission's public education
function. The Commission has engaged in public debate via the print
and electronic media, uses "new" media such as the internet
to provide substantial information to the public and to make human
rights education material available to schools. The Commission also
uses community announcements and niche or specialist media to provide
general information on the Commission's complaints system, its legal
interventions and other aspects of the Commission's work.

In the past year,
Commissioners have contributed to public debate on human rights and
discrimination issues including refugees and asylum seekers, racial
vilification, Indigenous social justice, native title, sex discrimination
and harassment, paid maternity leave and other equity issues, disability
discrimination and advances in accessibility for people with a disability
and on changes to legislation that may affect people's human rights.

The Commission
also promotes the Human Rights Medal and Awards which include a category
to recognise an outstanding contribution to human rights through the
print media, radio or television.

Media activity
has focussed primarily on the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration
Detention, the options paper for Paid Maternity Leave and the promotion
of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice and Native
Title reports 2001. The Commission also issued statements about changes
to immigration laws and to laws governing security and promoted its
intervention in the "Tampa" case, the "IVF"
case and the "Kevin and Jennifer" case (see the Legal
section at Chapter 3 of this Report for further information).

The National
Inquiry has attracted substantial media interest and evidence given
in public hearings in Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne has featured in
news reports in press, radio and television. Media representatives
have been kept informed about the progress of the Inquiry.

In the past year,
the Commission has issued about 90 media releases and Commissioners
have written a number of opinion pieces and articles.

The Commission
also has also engaged directly with representatives of the media about
their responsibility to report fairly and accurately, especially on
race issues. Following the United States terrorist attacks on September
11 2001 the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
Dr William Jonas called for Australians not to retaliate against Muslims
in the community. In response to public criticism - about talkback
radio in particular - Dr Jonas sent a memo to editors and executive
producers to draw their attention to the racial hatred provisions
of the Racial Discrimination Act.

A media forum
was convened as part of Beyond Tolerance: a national conference
on racism
, held at the Sydney Opera House on 12 and 13 March 2002
which addressed the issues confronted by journalists reporting and
commenting on race relations in Australia.

Community contacts

and staff met with peak bodies and community groups on a range of
issues during the year. Some of the significant consultations are
noted below.

and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice

The Social Justice
Commissioner held at least 150 consultations during 2001-02, including
consultations on the following issues:

  • Moving
    The national conference on stolen generations issues
    in August 2001 was attended by approximately 250 people.
  • Briefings
    on Social Justice and Native Title Reports
    Briefings on the contents of the 2000 and 2001 reports were held
    with Government, community organisations and through public launches
    in July - August 2001 and May - June 2002.
  • Juvenile
    Consultations were held in Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant
    Creek, Groote Eylandt and Katherine as part of the project on juvenile
    diversionary schemes in the Northern Territory and Western Australia
    between July and November 2001.
  • Corporate
    responsibility and native title
    Consultations included the conduct of a two day forum with traditional
    owners, representatives of land councils and mining companies in
    Alice Springs in May 2002.
  • Consultations
    on the operation of the Native Title Act.

    Consultations were held with the National Native Title Tribunal,
    Federal Court, Native Title Representative Bodies and the Aboriginal
    and Torres Strait Islander Commission on the operation of the legislation,
    as well as with native title holders and claimants.


More than 60
consultations were held by the Disability Discrimination Commissioner
and staff, including hosting a two day forum for national peak disability
representative organisations in December 2001. Other consultations

  • Banking.
    Regular ecommerce forum and specific consultations on banking industry
    accessibility standards.
  • Building
    Several meetings each of national Building Access Policy
    Committee and Building Access Technical Committee working towards
    upgrading of access provisions of the Building Code of Australia
    and adoption of standards in this area under the Disability Discrimination
    Act, a well as participation in national information sessions on
    this process.
  • Education.
    National consultative meeting on access to tertiary education materials,
    in addition to participation in working group considering national
    standards on education under the Disability Discrimination Act.
  • Telecommunications.
    Participation in Australian Telecommunications Industry Forum disability
    working party.

Human Rights

The Human Rights
Commissioner conducted a number of public consultations. These may
be broadly characterised into three groups:

  • United
    Nations Special Session on Children.

    Seven pre and post consultations with children and young people
    were carried out around Australia in locations as geographically
    diverse as Brisbane and Broome. The purpose behind the consultations
    was to allow expression of the thoughts of young Australians and
    on return to advise on outcomes from the Special Session.
  • National
    Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention.

    Two public hearings have been held in Melbourne and Perth. Further
    hearings are expected to be held in Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane.
    In addition at least 30 focus groups have been coordinated.
  • National
    Human Rights Dialogue.

    Meetings were held in at least 20 locations addressing groups as
    diverse as the New South Wales Justices' Association to the Association
    of Major Charitable Organisations.

Race Discrimination

Over 31 consultations
were conducted by the Race Discrimination Commissioner and staff in
2001-02. They included:

  • Eight consultations
    conducted with civil society around the country in relation to the
    themes of the World Conference Against Racism.
  • Thirteen
    consultations with Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups regarding
    race relations in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder community.
  • Other consultations/meetings
    were held on the Beyond Tolerance conference on racism; anti-Arabic
    and anti-Muslim vilification and attacks (post September 11); and
    national anti-racism strategies.

Sex Discrimination

Over 100 consultations
were conducted by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner and staff in
2001-02. Sixty one of these consultations concerned the issue of paid
maternity leave and included formal consultation forums in relation
to the paid maternity leave options paper. Consultations included:

  • Paid maternity
    leave - regional.

    Community based regional consultations were held in Katherine (Northern
    Territory) and Wagga Wagga (New South Wales) with a broad representation
    of individuals, health professionals, union delegates and employers
    within the local community.
  • Paid maternity
    leave - employer and union groups.
    Consultations were held in
    each of the capital cities with a wide range of employer representative
    and union groups. Meetings were also held with the Australian Council
    of Trade Unions President and eight public consultations and 18
    meetings were held with individual employer groups.
  • Paid maternity
    leave - womens' and community groups
    Consultations were held in each capital city with the assistance
    of the Women's Electoral Lobby, Business and Professional Women
    and the YWCA in various states and territories.
  • Sexual
    Two meetings were held with the Australian Defence
    Force in relation to the Force's sexual harassment policy and management
    of sexual harassment issues.
  • Pregnancy

    Consultations were held with the Australian Sports Commission on
    their national pregnancy guidelines, released in May 2002.

International visitors
to the Commission

During 2001-02,
the Public Affairs section coordinated a number of requests from international
human rights groups or individuals to visit the Commission.

Delegations who
visited the Commission included:

  • Public Participation
    Committee of the Thai Senate
  • Several Australian
    Ambassadors in the Asia Pacific region
  • Delegation
    from Kangwon provincial government in the Republic of Korea
  • Officers from
    the Office of Equality Investigations in the Republic of Ireland
  • Two Vietnamese
    Government delegations
  • United Kingdom
    National Office
  • Korean Human
    Rights Ambassador
  • Two Indonesian
    human rights delegations
  • Delegations
    from the Chinese Ministry of Justice and the Chinese Ministry of
    Foreign Affairs
  • Study tour
    by members of the Korean Human Right Commission.

The President,
Commissions and senior staff from the Commission made presentations
to the delegations about the Commission, its legislation, structure
and work. All delegation members were provided with a set of materials
about the Commission and its role at both a domestic and international