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Queensland’s Human Rights Act means changes are ahead

On 27 February 2019 the Queensland Parliament passed the Human Rights Bill.

The Human Rights Act 2019 will protect 23 rights, including the right to privacy, access to education and health services, cultural rights, and more, and is expected to commence on 1 January 2020.

The Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland will be renamed the Queensland Human Rights Commission, and continue its complaints handling, education, and training functions under the Anti-Discrimination Act . The Commission will also work to resolve human rights complaints, as well as provide information, education, and training on the Human Rights Act .

The Act protects 23 rights which are:

  • 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 peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • 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
  • right to health services.

The Act will require public entities — government departments, local councils, or other organisations providing functions of a public nature — to make decisions and act compatibly with human rights, and parliament to consider human rights when passing new legislation or amending current laws.

The Queensland Human Rights Commission will provide a dispute resolution process for handling human rights complaints.

The obligations and dispute resolution functions are expected to start from 1 January 2020.

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