EVENT: Human Rights in an Election Year – asylum seekers and indigenous rights


Prof. Gillian Triggs

EVENT REMINDER: 6pm Tues 16 April – Human rights is a universal concern, and Australia’s record can be compared with that of many western democracies. How Australia interprets and protects human rights has been greatly politicised by the issue of asylum seekers, especially in an election year. The issue also bleeds into our foreign and defence policy, how we interact with the asylum seekers’ countries of origin and how we approach humanitarian issues abroad.

After extensive national human rights consultations two years ago, human rights advocate Father Frank Brennan AO recommended  several initiatives, including that Australia should consider implementing a human rights charter.

The ALP chose not to adopt any bill or charter of human rights, but did establish a human rights framework and developed an exposure draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination  Bill  2012. The Bill was arguably the closest Australia could come to a Bill of Rights without actually adopting one. After the proposal attracted a significant degree of opposition on several grounds, it was withdrawn from reading by Attorney General Mark Drefus for further redrafting. 

Compared to these human rights initiatives, legislation to clarify indigenous rights has had a less-controversial run in Parliament.

Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs will explain the current situation. She is President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, taking up her appointment by the Commonwealth Attorney-General in 2012. She was Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney from 2007-12 and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law from 2005-7. She is a former Barrister with Seven Wentworth Chambers and a Governor of the College of Law.

Professor Triggs graduated in Law from the University of Melbourne in 1968 and gained a PhD in 1982. She has combined an academic career with international commercial legal practice and worked with governments and international organizations on human rights law. She hopes to focus her Presidency on the implementation in Australian law of the human rights treaties to which Australia is a party, and to work with nations in the Asia Pacific region on practical approaches to human rights.

Professor Triggs’ long-standing commitment to legal education will build upon the Commission’s efforts to inform Australians, especially children, about their fundamental human rights.

She has been a consultant on International Law to Mallesons Stephen Jaques, a Board Member of the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH), the Australian representative on the Council of Jurists for the Asia Pacific Forum for National Human Rights Institutions, Chair of the Board of the Australian International Health Institute, a member of the Attorney General’s International Legal Service Advisory Council and Chair of the Council of Australian Law Deans.


Cost: AIIA members $15.00;  Senior/student members: $10.00

         Visitors $25; Student Visitors $15

Book now: http://www.aiia.asn.au/nsw-events/event/679-human-rights-in-an-election-year


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