Children’s rights in the spotlight with passing of QLD Human Rights Bill
Children’s rights have been enshrined in law, alongside those of other Queenslanders, with the passing of the Human Rights Bill 2018 in Queensland parliament this week.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the legislation is about protecting the rights of all Queensland citizens, and about the creation of the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) to educate and assist.
“The primary aim of the legislation is to ensure that respect for human rights is embedded in the culture of the public sector, and that public functions are exercised in a principled way that is compatible with human rights,” Ms D’Ath said.
The conciliation function of the QHRC will be the first of its kind in Australia, and will play an important role in educating and informing the community about human rights, including the rights of the child.
Members of the Queensland general public will be able to utilise the dispute resolution arm of the service, with the QHRC providing “an accessible, independent and appropriate avenue for members of the community to raise human rights concerns with public entities, with a view to reaching a practical resolution,” Ms D’Ath said.
The Bill protects 23 human rights, with many of them primarily focused on the care, education, and rights of children:
- recognition and equality before the law;
- right to life;
- protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;
- freedom from forced work;
- freedom of movement;
- freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief;
- freedom of expression;
- peaceful assembly and freedom of association;
- taking part in public life;
- property rights;
- privacy and reputation;
- protection of families and children;
- cultural rights—generally;
- cultural rights—Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders;
- right to liberty and security of person;
- humane treatment when deprived of liberty;
- fair hearing;
- rights in criminal proceedings;
- children in the criminal process;
- right not to be tried or punished more than once;
- retrospective criminal laws;
- right to education; and
- right to health services.
Speaking about the consultation process involved in determining the Bill, Ms D’Ath said she wanted to extend her thanks to the stakeholders and members of the public who took the time to tender submissions and attend hearings in relation to the Bill.
Ms D’Ath gave a “special mention” to those advocacy groups and individuals who had been long term proponents of their causes and the Bill itself, saying “without their tenacity we would not be where we are today”.
The first review of the operation of the Act will occur as soon as is practical after July 1, 2023, and will include a consideration of whether additional human rights should be included.