This post has been contributed by Professor Susan Harris Rimmer, a Professor in the Griffith Law School, Leader of the Climate Action Beacon and co-founder of the Gender Equality Research Network (GERN) and a member of the Law Futures Centre.

The Queensland government has given the international law expert until the end of September to report on the state’s two-year-old Human Rights Act.  Griffith University’s Professor Susan Harris Rimmer will need to deliver a copy of her review to attorney-general and minister for justice Yvette D’Ath by September 20.

Her final report to government will recommend whether any additional rights should be included in the state’s Human Rights Act, if the legislation should be amended to include a funding provision to finance remedies, and whether related amendments to the Corrective Services Act 2006 and the Youth Justice Act 1992 have been effective.

In a statement announcing Harris Rimmer’s appointment, the AG said she brought years of policy and academic experience to the work of the review. “She is a member of various academic groups and has also worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the National Council of Churches and the Parliamentary Library,” D’Ath said.

A co-convenor of Griffith University’s Gender Equality Research Network and international law expert, Harris Rimmer is also involved in the university’s Climate Action Beacon as a leader of the climate justice theme.

Harris Rimmer also founded the EveryGen coalition, which seeks to amplify the voices of current and future generations and highlight the long-term impacts of today’s policy decisions.

According to the review terms of reference (TOR), Harris Rimmer will be required to consult with the academic community as well as state government departments, key legal stakeholders (including the Queensland Law Society, the Bar Association Queensland and community legal centres), victims, First Nations peoples, and service providers (including those working with victims of domestic, family and sexual violence victim-survivors).

The review will also be required to consult with the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC).

“Should the reviewer consider broader consultation is required to inform the review, the Reviewer may invite (for example by correspondence/ public notice/ advertisement) submissions in writing from interested persons,” the TOR read.

“It is intended that the first review of the act will be a targeted review aimed at the effectiveness of the current provisions in the act, including any issues that have arisen in relation to its operative provisions since the Act’s substantive provisions commenced on 1 January 2020 up to 30 June 2023.

“In this respect, the review will provide an opportunity to assess how well the act has been implemented and how well it is meeting its objective of building a culture of human rights across the Queensland public sector.”

Queensland was the third Australian jurisdiction, after the ACT and Victoria, to adopt human rights legislation, commencing in 2020.

The Queensland legislation was the first to create a complaints and dispute resolution process for human rights matters, via the functions of the QHRC. It also created requirements for the three arms of government:

  • For the parliament to always consider human rights when proposing and scrutinising new laws
  • For courts and tribunals to always interpret legislation in a way that is compatible with human rights (so far as it is possible to do so); and
  • For public entities to always act and make decisions in a way that is compatible with human rights and in making a decision, giving proper consideration to human rights relevant to the decision.

“The act primarily protects civil and political rights but it also protects two economic and social rights drawn from the ICESCR (the right to education and right to health services),” the TOR read.

“The act also explicitly recognises cultural rights and, in particular, the distinct cultural rights of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Under section 95 of the act, an independent review of the legislation must be completed “as soon as practicable” after July 1, 2023.

Reposted from The Mandarin: Susan Harris Rimmer to examine Qld adoption of human rights law (