Human Rights

Picture of Helen Watchirs, Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner wearing a blue jacket against a cream coloured walll

The current President and Human Rights Commissioner is Dr Helen Watchirs. A copy of Dr Watchirs’ biography is here.

The Commissioner provides community education and information about the rights protected in the ACT Human Rights Act 2004.

Human rights are universal, and enjoyed by everyone in the ACT regardless of gender, religious belief, nationality, race or any other point of difference.

The ACT was the first jurisdiction in Australia to enact a Human Rights Act, which provides an explicit statutory basis for respecting, protecting and promoting civil and political rights. Rights protected include:

  • Recognition and equality before the law;
  • The right to life;
  • The right not to be subject to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;
  • The right not to be subject to medical treatment or experimentation without consent;
  • The right to privacy and reputation;
  • Rights of the family and children;
  • The right to participate in public life;
  • Freedom of expression;
  • Freedom of thought, conscience and religious belief;
  • Rights of minorities to enjoy their culture;
  • Freedom of movement;
  • The right to a fair trial and rights in criminal proceedings; and
  • Freedom from forced work.
  • Rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
  • Right to Education

These rights reflect Australia’s international human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The first statement of ‘human rights’ internationally came in the form of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a United Nations Declaration that was a precursor to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

More information on these rights are available on our website, and information on United Nations Documents is available from the UN here.