Human Rights Project
As of 1 January 2020, the Qld Human Rights Act (2019) came into force in its entirety and is intended to protect and respect the freedom, equality and dignity of every person in Queensland.
In delivering services to Queenslanders it is important that we all understand the obligations and responsibilities that the Act has on both Queensland Government agencies as well as organisations that deliver services on behalf of the Queensland Government.
What does this mean? Well, under the Act, non-government entities who are engaged in delivering services to the public, on behalf of the government or another public entity, are considered to be a functional public entity.
Public entities have obligations under the Human Rights Act 2019, to act and make decisions in a way that is compatible with human rights. This means behaving and making decisions that do not limit human rights when delivering services, developing policies and projects, managing risks, making decisions, making complaints. This applies to our work with people in the community as well as employees.
It is important that public entities engage in the development of a strong human rights culture to make human rights a part of their everyday work and improve operational capacity, including the review of existing policies and procedures to be compatible with the Act. Our research has shown that many organisations have been slow to adopt and align their existing practices with the Act. In addition, that the changes and subsequent training require a time, resources and commitment by organisations. Ange from Social Scaffolding is currently working with one of our large NFP clients through this process, with specific customisations to ensure compliance and adoption for the people they support. We look forward to sharing the learnings and highlights of this project as we progress.
Human Rights and the Child Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020
On 14 July 2020, the Child Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (Qld) (the Bill) was introduced into the Queensland Parliament by the Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women, Di Farmer. The Bill responds to the findings of the Deputy State Coroner in the Coroners Court of Queensland on 2 June 2020 following the inquest into the death of 22-month old Mason Jet Lee (Mason).
Under the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) (the Act) Minister’s introducing Bill’s into the Queensland Parliament, must provide a Human Rights statement of compatibility, declaring whether the Bill is compatible with human rights protected by the Act.
Whilst the Minister has declared that the Bill is compatible with the human rights protected by the Act this is not the view held by many in the sector. On 31 July 2020, QCOSS hosted a workshop to explore how the Human Rights Act applies to the Bill. Feedback throughout the workshop was that the Bill is likely to result in unjustifiable limitations of the human rights of Queenslanders, in particular the rights of children and families. Speakers and attendees felt that the Bill would likely result in adoption being used more routinely as an option for children who are subject to child protection orders. Views of the sector attendees were that there were less restrictive ways to achieve stability for children who are subject to child protection orders.
QCOSS has subsequently made a submission on the Bill which can be viewed here: