Student research project: A Federal Charter of Human Rights
RMIT JD students authored a report for the Australian Human Rights Commission exploring and evaluating the effect that a federal Charter of Human Rights would have had on the outcomes of significant Australian cases and laws.
RMIT JD students completed a Human Rights Impact Assessment by creating their own model Charter and applying it to selected key federal legislation and case law from the past twelve years in areas as diverse as asylum seekers, anti-association laws, national security, social security and paperless arrest laws.
The report found that a federal Charter of Human Rights would serve to strengthen the protection of human rights in Australia and deepen the consideration and understanding of human rights by parliament, courts, public authorities and the broader community.
Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs said that the students’ work provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the lack of federal legislative protection of human rights. “Although considerable commentary of these individual matters exist, there has been little analysis of the effect that stronger protections would have on each of these cases. The impact assessment can provide an evidence base for stronger human rights protections within federal laws,” Professor Triggs said.
Helen Metzger, a student involved in the project said she was thrilled to be part of the research team. “This project has caused me to realise how exposed Australians are without some stronger human rights protections in place. We think that a federal human rights instrument would elevate considerations of human rights and ensure their appropriate protection,” she said.