Lawyers welcome TLRI recommendation for laws to protect human rights in Tasmania


The recommendations made in the Tasmania Law Reform Institute’s research paper on human rights released today have been welcomed by local lawyers.

The research paper recommends that a Charter of Human Rights or a Human Rights Act should be adopted in the state, and an independent Human Rights Commissioner appointed to better protect Tasmanians.

“We welcome this report and the recommendations from the Tasmania Law Reform Institute,” said Ms Rowena Macdonald, Tasmanian President, Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“A Tasmanian human rights act would benefit us all. It will provide an avenue for significant, positive, life-changing outcomes for many people who are struggling in the current economic climate, and in particular the most vulnerable people in our community. For example, there are people in our community currently experiencing discrimination when trying to access local housing. Many Tasmanians are distressed by the growing numbers of homeless people in our towns and cities. Unreasonable, discriminatory barriers to achieving a basic right to housing would be remedied by a human rights act.

“A human rights act would ensure the accountability of decision-makers in our state and create a stronger human rights culture that focuses on diversity, inclusion, equality and respect. Human rights need to be at the fore and not an afterthought.”

Drawing on the experiences in Victoria, the ACT and Queensland, the ALA says there is evidence that important and practical human rights protections can be achieved when human rights laws are in place. To be most effective human rights laws must be entrenched in legislation and public officials must be obliged to make decisions that are consistent with these laws.

“We need to catch up with accepted international standards – and follow the lead of other jurisdictions in Australia ­– when it comes to protecting the rights of our citizens. Human rights laws are positive and effective mechanisms for safeguarding the dignity and well-being of everyone in a healthy democracy,” said Rowena.

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