The Queensland Human Rights Commission, created by the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), will commence from 1 July 2019 through changing the name and expanding the functions of the pre-existing Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ). The ADCQ has the power to handle complaints made under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 and provide training. From 1 July, these powers will extend to cover complaints and training relating to the Human Rights Act 2019.

 

Making a Complaint to the QHRC

Complaints must relate to acts occurring on or after 1 July 2019. A complaint must relate to an alleged breach of section 58(1), stating that a public entity has:

  • acted or made a decision in a way that is not compatible with human rights; or
  • in making a decision, failed to give proper consideration to a human right relevant to the decision

Before a person or entity can make a complaint they must make a complaint to the public entity itself, to be managed under their complaints process. If, after 45 business days, there has been no response or an inadequate response a complaint may be made to the QHRC. A complaint must be made in writing within one year of the alleged human rights contravention, stating the complainant’s name and address.

The QHRC will provide a dispute resolution process for handling human rights complaints, namely conciliation conferences. The obligations and dispute resolution functions are expected to start from 1 January 2020.

The Commissioner must refuse to deal with a human rights complaint if the Commissioner considers the complaint is frivolous, trivial, vexatious, misconceived or lacking in substance. It may also determine the complaint has already been dealt with by another entity, or could more appropriately be referred to another entity. In these circumstances, the complaint lapses and a further complaint cannot be made.

 

Other functions of the QHRC

  • if asked by the Attorney-General, to review the effect of Acts, statutory instruments and the common law on human rights and give the Attorney-General a written report about the outcome of the review;
  • to review public entities’ policies, programs, procedures, practices and services in relation to their compatibility with human rights;
  • to promote an understanding and acceptance, and public discussion, of human rights and the HR Act in Queensland;
  • to make information about human rights available to the community;
  • to provide education about human rights and the HR Act;
  • to assist the Attorney-General in reviews of the HR Act under clauses 95 and 96 (review of the HRs Act);
  • to advise the Attorney-General about matters relevant to the operation of the HR Act;
  • another function conferred on the Commission under the HR Act or another Act.

 

This blog is part of a fortnightly series on the Queensland Human Rights Act which will break down key rights and remedies, and examine the role of the Human Rights Commission and the relationship between Human Rights and Criminal Law. Keep posted every week!