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Free and Equal: An Australian conversation on human rights

Rights Rights and Freedoms
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On 14 December 2018, the Australian Human Rights Commission announced a major project: ‘Free and Equal: An Australian conversation on human rights’ (the National Conversation).

Throughout this year, we will be talking with people nationally to identify what makes an effective system of human rights protection for 21st century Australia?

The purpose of the National Conversation is to:

  • Promote awareness of the importance of human rights to 21st century Australia
  • Identify current limitations and barriers to better human rights protections
  • Identify what key principles should underpin the reform of human rights in Australia
  • Build agreement across the Parliament, government and the community about what we can do collectively to better promote, protect and fulfil human rights

More technical information about the purpose of the conversation can be found in the 

What will the National Conversation look like?

To explore what an effective human rights framework looks like, the Commission will:

  • open the conversation to the public, inviting submissions on conversation starters
  • undertake consultations nationally through 2019
  • convene technical workshops on areas relevant to the project and invite submissions to technical papers on these areas

A finalised roadmap for national human rights reform will be released in mid-2020.

A full timeline for the national conversation can be found below.


The ‘Free and Equal’ Conference on Human Rights

The Free and Equal conference is the centrepiece of the national conversation and once-in-a-decade event. It will take stock of themes emerging from Australian voices and allow us to hear from human rights experts, industry and community leaders on how we can advance human rights into the 21st Century.

The conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Sydney on Tuesday 8 October 2019

You can find out more about the Conference and purchase tickets here.

Discussion Papers

To start this national conversation, we have written an Issues Paper. The Issues Paper provides the context of where we are at with human rights in Australia. It asks questions about what the best Australian human rights framework could look like. 

You can read the Issues Paper here.

In this Paper, we ask your views on a number of general discussion questions. You can make a submission to the Commission on this Paper and these questions using the submissions form here. The deadline for receiving submissions is 5pm on 18 October.

Technical Discussion Papers

As part of the National Conversation we are also releasing a series of technical discussion papers that explore different parts of our national human rights framework and present options for reform. 

The first of these papers was released on 1 August 2019. It sets out the Commission’s preliminary views on the priorities for federal discrimination law reform. Two more papers will be released over the coming months. 

You can make a submission to the Commission on these papers using the submissions form here. The deadline for receiving submissions is 5pm on 18 October.

Discussion paper: Priorities for federal discrimination law reform

A part of the national conversation is to look at Australia’s current human rights framework. One critical part of this framework is our discrimination laws, protecting you from unlawful discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, and other statuses.

We have prepared a Discussion Paper: Priorities for federal discrimination law reform discussing the lay of the land, where there is need for improvement, and what that might look like.

We want to hear your views on a number of questions relating to these reform priorities.

How can you be involved?

We want to hear your vision for the future. We want to hear about what human rights matter to you and how respect for human rights can make our lives better and our communities stronger. Everyone is invited to take part.

You can make a written submission to the Commission on this Paper and the questions included in all of the papers here.

The deadline for receiving submissions is 5pm on 18 October.


Please join us in this conversation about the Australia you want to live in.

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