Human rights

Our vision is for a modern, fair and responsive Queensland where we respect, protect and promote human rights.

From 1 January 2020 (expected commencement), the Human Rights Act 2019 will form part of the suite of administrative law obligations and oversight mechanisms that hold government to account.

From this date, public entities will have to make decisions and act compatibly with human rights; the interpretive role of courts and tribunals will commence; and the Queensland Human Rights Commission will have the power to receive and conciliate human rights complaints.

This means fairer laws, policies and practices in government’s day-to-day dealings with the community.

DJAG obligations

Department of Justice and Attorney-General (DJAG) and our employees will have an obligation under the Human Rights Act to make decisions and act compatibly with human rights in our work and in our interactions with Queenslanders.

DJAG will:

  • build a culture that respects and promotes human rights
  • protect and promote human rights
  • promote a dialogue about the nature, meaning and scope of human rights.

We will embed human rights understanding in our everyday business to place the human rights of individuals, especially the most vulnerable, at the forefront of our service delivery.

DJAG implementation

Human Rights Unit

A temporary Human Rights Unit (HRU) has been established within DJAG to coordinate and support implementation across the whole-of-government. The HRU sits within Strategic Policy and will also lead the DJAG implementation.

A Human Rights Inter-Departmental Committee (HRIDC) has been convened by the HRU to oversee government implementation and ensure a consistent and positive approach.

A DJAG Human Rights Implementation Working Group (HRIWG) has been formed to coordinate implementation of the Act within DJAG. DJAG divisions and business areas are represented on this HRIWG by a nominated representative.

Human rights complaints

DJAG actions and decisions can impact the human rights of individuals—sometimes in a positive way and sometimes in a negative way.

The Human Rights Act will require DJAG to consider human rights in all government decision making and action and only limit human rights in certain circumstances and after careful consideration.

When the Human Rights Act commences, DJAG will have a complaints process in place to deal with human rights concerns. From this date, if you believe that DJAG has breached your human rights, you can make a complaint to us. We must respond within 45 business days.

If you are not happy with the response, you may complain to the Queensland Human Rights Commission (from 1 January 2020).

Information for public entities

Public entities, as defined under the Human Rights Act, are bodies such as government departments and agencies, public service employees, police officers and Ministers, plus other organisations that perform functions of a public nature on behalf of the state.

The Act requires public entities to act and make decisions in a way that is compatible with human rights.

There are essentially 2 types of public entities:

  • core public entities
  • functional public entities

Core public entities are relatively easy to identify. Section 9 of the Human Rights Act lists core public entities and includes, for example, Queensland Government departments and public service employees, Ministers, local government and councillors, and the Queensland Police Service.

Functional public entities only fall within the definition of a public entity under the Act when they are performing functions of a public nature. This reflects cases where public services are delivered by non-government organisations on behalf of the State. Section 10 of the Human Rights Act provides further guidance and a non-exhaustive list including emergency services, public health services, public transport and public housing.

Courts and tribunals are public entities only when they are acting in an administrative capacity (which may include when hiring staff, listing cases, adopting policies and procedures, during committal proceedings and issuing warrants). Courts and tribunals are not public entities when they are exercising judicial functions.

There are other special categories of public entities such as registered providers of supports or a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (Cwlth), and interstate police officers are also public entities in certain circumstances.

Private organisations can opt in under the Act.

If you would like more information about the definition of public entities you can contact the Queensland Human Rights Commission.

About the Human Rights Act

The Human Rights Act protects 23 fundamental human rights drawn from international human rights law.

Implementation of the Act is a 2-stage process.

The first stage is the commencement of the Queensland Human Rights Commission and their communication and educative functions, on 1 July 2019.

The second stage will be the commencement of the substantive elements of the Human Rights Act, including the human rights, the obligations on public entities, the interpretative role of the courts and tribunals, and the Queensland Human Rights Commission’s complaints conciliation function, anticipated to commence on 1 January 2020.