MEDIA RELEASE 10 December 2008
ACT Human Rights Commissioner welcomes
National Consultation on Human Rights Act
The ACT Human Rights Commission today welcomed the announcement of the Federal Attorney-
General that the Australian Government would shortly begin consulting on a national Human Rights
The ACT was the first jurisdiction in the country to adopt a Human Rights Act in 2004.
ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Helen Watchirs, said the ACT experience,
like those of other jurisdictions, demonstrated what a positive benefit a Human Rights Act could have.
‘Experiences in countries like Britain, New Zealand and South Africa, to name only a few, have shown
a Human Rights Act has an overwhelming benefit for the community,’ said Dr Watchirs.
‘Here in the ACT, the Human Rights Act has been used to audit and improve services in the existing
Quamby Youth Detention and in designing the new Bimberi Youth Justice Centre.’
‘The new Alexander Maconochie Centre is also the first prison in the country to be built according to
human rights principles.’
‘Applying the Act to new legislation has also led to reform, such as the new Children and Young
People Act, and to changes in emergency electro-convulsive therapy legislation.’
‘And from a national viewpoint, the ACT implemented national anti-terrorism legislation in a revised
form, recognising the need to approach security issues from a human rights perspective.’
The ACT Human Rights Commission will today celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal
Declaration of Human Rights today with a community forum.
The Forum will feature speeches from Simon Corbell MLA, ACT Attorney-General,
Roslyn Dundas, Director of ACT Council of Social Service and Helen Dalley, Solicitor at the Welfare
Rights and Legal Centre.
‘We will also launch at the forum a new fact sheet summarising changes to the ACT Human Rights
Act, which come into force on 1 January 2009,’ said Dr Watchirs.
‘These changes place new obligations on public authorities, such as ACT Government departments,
police officers, when they are exercising powers under ACT law, and public employees.’
‘They may also include non-government organisations whose functions are, or include, functions of a
For media information or comment please contact Sean Costello 6205 2222 or 0424 369 231
L4, 12 Moore St, Canberra City T: (02) 6205 2222 F: (02) 6207 1034 TTY: (02) 6205 1666
GPO Box 158 CANBERRA ACT 2601 Website: www.hrc.act.gov.au Email: firstname.lastname@example.org