The Wheeler Centre
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Right Time: Why We Need an Australian Charter of Human Rights
Australia is the only western democracy without a Charter of Human Rights or an equivalent legal protection. What’s holding us back?
For this discussion, we brought together three panellists – Kristen Hilton, Teela Reid and Gillian Triggs – to discuss the push for a federal Charter of Human Rights. Hosted by Lee Carnie, they outline glaring problem areas in Australia’s human-rights record and make a case for legally enshrined and protected rights for all Australians.
What can we learn from the existing charters in Victoria and ACT? What real-life and practical difference would a Charter of Human Rights make for everyday Australians? And, with successive Australian governments showing a sometimes lax attitude towards our international human rights obligations, what reason is there to believe that things might be different under a charter?
Presented in partnership with the Human Rights Law Centre.
Lee Carnie is a senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre advocating for equality law reform and a national Charter of Human Rights, and the Director of Legal Advocacy at Equality Australia, Australia’s first national LGBTIQ+ legal advocacy and campaigning organisation. They are dedicated to tackling discrimination and building a movement for stronger human rights protections for all of us.
Kristen Hilton commenced her role as Victoria’s Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner on 1 June 2016. In this role, Kristen leads a strategic and high impact policy agenda in support of organisational priorities through public interest litigation and other advocacystrategies. Prior to her appointment, Kristen was the Executive Director, Legal Practice, with Victoria Legal Aid and has previously worked with the organisation as Executive Director, Civil Justice and Access.
Teela Reid is a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman and lawyer. She has experience practicing in criminal, civil and administrative law. She was born and raised in Gilgandra western NSW and come from a family of advocates in the NSW Land rights movement.
Gillian Triggs is former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the new Chair of Justice Connect, a non-profit dedicated to connecting people locked out of the justice system with free legal help. She is also Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Vice President of the Asian Development Bank Tribunal.
Gillian has combined an academic career with international commercial legal practice and has advised the Australian and other governments and international organisations on international legal and trade disputes. After her tenure with the HRC ended, Gillian joined Justice Connect as Chair to pursue her commitment to ensuring that all people have a fair chance to access justice, including people experiencing homelessness, elder abuse, family violence and financial exploitation. Post-HRC, Gillian is focused on helping lawyers ‘get out of the office’ and meet people who need legal help where they live. She is also the author of many books and papers on international law, including International Law, Contemporary Principles and Practices.