President & Human Rights Commissioner

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

Hello, I’m Helen Watchirs, the President and Human Rights Commissioner at the ACT Human Rights Commission. I was appointed as Human Rights Commissioner in 2004 and appointed Commission President from 1 April 2016.

The Commission promotes the human rights and welfare of all people living in the ACT. Respect and protection of human rights underpins all our work. As President, my role includes:

  • providing systemic oversight, monitoring and advice on compliance with human rights by the ACT Government and public authorities
  • reporting or co-ordinating reporting on behalf of the Commission, including inquiries and reviews
  • managing the administration and finances of the Commission, and ensuring that its functions are exercised in an orderly and prompt way
  • reporting on systemic matters to the Minister for Justice.

As Human Rights Commissioner I also have important additional roles, including:

  • raising awareness and increasing understanding of human rights within the ACT community
  • providing advice and submissions to ACT Government on legislative and policy proposals that affect human rights
  • intervening in court and tribunal cases that raise human rights issues
  • reviewing the effect of Territory laws (including inspecting places of detention)
  • intervening in significant human rights court cases.

My colleagues at the Human Rights Commission include: