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Human Rights 21: Looking ahead

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Looking ahead

We must acknowledge that while Australia enjoys a standard of living and opportunity more advantageous than many other countries, we cannot pretend that all Australians share these privileges. There is much work still to be done.

Professor Alice Tay, HREOC President 1998-2003

Photo of Alice Tay

Over the past 21 years HREOC has helped to highlight, investigate and respond to a wide range of complex human rights issues in Australia.
During this time there have been many positive changes. It is clear, however, that gaping holes still exist.

The entrenched deprivations suffered by Indigenous Australians are unacceptable and embarrassing given our status as a first world country.

The threat of terrorism has led to an increase in the level of prejudice experienced by Arab and Muslim Australians. It has also had a negative impact on our treatment of refugees and newly arrived immigrants.

The mistreatment and neglect of people who have a mental illness in our community is chronic and requires immediate attention.

These are some of the challenges that HREOC will continue to address in cooperation with a broad range of partners, including government, non-government, business, industry and community organisations.

‘Close the Gap’, a campaign to end the 17 year life difference in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, is just one example of the collaborations that HREOC has helped to establish.

These projects will be supported by our commitment to provide a fair, fast and accessible complaint handling service and education programs that help build community awareness and ownership of human rights.

As an organisation, we also need to grow. To do this HREOC has embarked upon HREOC 21 - a project that marks our 21st anniversary by:

  • reflecting on HREOC’s achievements to date
  • creating an inspired, motivating and realistic role for HREOC in the future; and
  • setting clear and measurable goals and objectives to assist HREOC in achieving its vision.

Our overarching goal, however, remains the same as it was in 1986 – to work towards an Australian society in which the human rights of all are respected, protected and promoted.

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