1 Introduction

Rights & Responsibilities 2014 was a national consultation conducted by the Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson. The consultation examined how well people think their human rights and freedoms are protected in Australia.[2]

In particular, the consultation sought to examine whether Australia’s different levels of government, through the enactment of legislation and implementation of policies:

  • unnecessarily limit the capacity of individuals to exercise their human rights, and/or
  • undermine the role of civil society to determine restrictions on human rights in accordance with social norms and conventions.

The consultation sought to obtain people’s views about:

  • the contemporary human rights issues in Australia
  • how well human rights and freedoms are protected in Australia
  • the legislation, policies and practices by government that unduly restrict the exercise of human rights and freedoms
  • what is being done, and what more could be done, to promote a culture of respect for rights and responsibilities.

The Human Rights Commissioner deliberately engaged with ‘everyday people’ in suburban, regional, remote and rural areas of Australia. This engagement process sought to move discussions beyond the usual dialogue between academics, governments and human rights organisations in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. It also ensured that individuals and organisations representing a diverse range of views about human rights in contemporary Australia participated in Rights & Responsibilities 2014.

This report sets out the consultation process, identifies key systemic issues and themes, and outlines the Human Rights Commissioner’s priorities for future work.


[2] The Rights & Responsibilities 2014 consultation was separate to the inquiry being undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission about ‘traditional rights, freedoms and privileges’ in Commonwealth laws – see http://www.alrc.gov.au/inquiries/freedoms (viewed 12 March 2015).