The ACT Human Rights Commission promotes the human rights and welfare of all people living in the ACT. Respect and protection of human rights underpins all our work.
For many in the ACT, the COVID-19 pandemic is transforming how we live, work and interact with one another. The ACT Government has taken exceptional steps in recent months, in declaring a public health emergency and placing restrictions on gatherings, businesses and those entering the ACT, designed to contain and control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Protecting lives and health in an emergency – particularly for our most vulnerable – is undoubtedly a valid reason to limit how we normally enjoy our human rights like free movement and association. Human rights can only ever be limited in ways that are necessary, reasonable and proportionate, and this does not change amid a global pandemic. The challenge then is to ensure responses to COVID-19 do not unjustifiably limit our human rights.
The Commission remains committed to promoting the human rights and welfare of all people in the ACT during this challenging period. Even though our office is temporarily closed to the public, Commission services are still available to Canberrans. We are closely monitoring the impacts of the pandemic response on Canberrans and are continuing to provide independent advice to government to ensure that human rights are properly considered during this crisis.
Responding to COVID-19 and its effects may engage and potentially limit many of the rights in the ACT’s Human Rights Act 2004 to varying degrees. Although many of these impacts may not yet be visible, other key issues are becoming clearer.
This factsheet provides an overview of human rights considerations associated with COVID-19 and provides links to relevant resources. It covers the following topics: