The Human Rights Act – does it apply to you?

As of 1 January 2020, all provisions of the Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019 are now in effect. What does this mean for you and your business? You’ll need to consider whether the Act applies to your business and whether policies and procedures should be implemented to meet statutory obligations.

The Human Rights Act creates specific obligations for “public entities” to act and make decisions in a way that is compatible with human rights. Public entities may include: 

  • state government departments and public officials;
  • local councils, including councilors and employees;
  • Queensland Police;
  • agencies and entities when performing functions of a public nature, including emergency services, public health services (including NDIS registered providers), public transport, state schools, public tertiary and vocation education and publicly funded housing providers.

Public entities need to be aware of their obligations under the Act and ensure that they have adequate procedures and policies in place.

The Human Rights Act does not create rights for individuals to bring any claim against another member of the public, or against a corporation or entity that is not a public entity.

A breach of the Human Rights Act does not create a separate, stand-alone legal action. It is a claim that can only be added to an existing cause of action against a public entity. Importantly, no monetary damages can be awarded in response to a claim under the Human Rights Act.

The 23 human rights protected by the Human Rights Act include:

  • recognition and equality before the law;
  • rights to life;
  • protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;
  • freedom from forced work;
  • freedom of movement;
  • freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief;
  • freedom of expression;
  • peaceful assembly and freedom of association;
  • taking part in public life; 
  • property rights;
  • privacy and reputation;
  • protection of families and children;
  • cultural rights – generally;
  • cultural rights – Aboriginal people and Torres Straight Islanders;
  • rights to liberty and security of person;
  • humane treatment when deprived of liberty;
  • fair hearing;
  • rights in criminal proceedings
  • protection of children in the criminal process
  • right not to be tried or punished more than once
  • retrospective criminal laws;
  • rights to education; and
  • rights to health services.

At Cohen Legal we can assist you with all your business needs, including providing advice and preparing policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the Human Rights Act and other legal requirements.  Our business is protecting yours.