Marking a historic moment in the State’s history, the rights of all Queenslanders are now enshrined in legislation with the Human Rights Act 2019 passing the Queensland Parliament last week.

Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, Australia has ratified a number of human rights treaties and thereby accepted legal obligations under international law. However, a treaty is not a direct source of individual rights and obligations until it is incorporated into domestic legislation.

After many years of lobbying, this legislation consolidates and establishes statutory protections for 23 human rights broadly categorised as:

  • ‘civil and political rights’, including the right to life and protection from torture or inhuman treatment, and the freedom of expression, movement and religion
  • ‘economic, social and cultural rights’, including the right to education and health services.

The regulatory model underpinning the legislation will be supported by the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC). Formerly the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, the QHRC has been rebranded and empowered to deal with human rights complaints and promote an understanding and acceptance of human rights in the community.

Queensland is now the third Australian jurisdiction where human rights are enshrined in law. The Queensland law is based on a model of human rights legislation that is broadly consistent with Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.