Human rights

Our vision is for a modern, fair and responsive Queensland where we respect, protect and promote human rights. From 1 January 2020, it is currently expected that the Human Rights Act 2019 will commence in its entirety and form part of the administrative law obligations and oversight mechanisms that hold government to account.

The main objects of the Act are to:

  • protect and promote human rights
  • help build a culture in the Queensland public sector that respects and promotes human rights
  • help promote a dialogue about the nature, meaning and scope of human rights.

Protected human rights

The Act protects 23 fundamental human rights drawn from international human rights law:

  • 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 requires government to consider human rights in all decision-making and action, and only limit human rights in certain circumstances and after careful consideration.

The human rights protected under the Act are not absolute. This means that the rights must be balanced against the rights of others and public policy issues of significance.

These rights are recognised in international human rights treaties including the:

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Our obligations under the Act

Government departments and public service employees will have a responsibility to respect, protect and promote the human rights of individuals. They must act in a way that is compatible with human rights obligations when delivering services and interacting with the community.

This means fairer laws, policies and practices in government’s day-to-day dealings with the community.

A Human Rights Unit has been established within government to coordinate preparations for the expected 1 January 2020 commencement of the Act.

Making a complaint

Government actions and decisions can impact human rights of individuals, sometimes in a positive way and sometimes in a negative way. There will be a complaints process if you have been affected by a government action or decision.

Complain to a government department

From 1 January 2020, if you believe that a government department or agency has breached your human rights, you should make a complaint directly to them first.

Every government department and agency will have a complaints process in place to deal with human rights concerns.

We must respond within 45 business days.

Complain to the Human Rights Commission

Upon commencement of the Act in its entirety (expected on 1 January 2020), the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) will have the power to receive and conciliate human rights complaints.

If you are not happy with the response from the agency you complained to, you may complain to the QHRC.

On 1 July 2019 the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland was renamed the Queensland Human Rights Commission.

The QHRC will report annually about the Act to Parliament.

Read about the changes at the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland under the Act.

Implementation of the Act

The Act is currently expected to come into force in its entirety on 1 January 2020. From this date:

  • public entities will have to make decisions and act compatibly with human rights
  • the interpretive role of the courts and tribunals will commence
  • the Queensland Human Rights Commission will have the power to receive and conciliate human rights complaints.

More information

Human Rights Act

Human rights in Australia