South Australia is one step closer to a Human Rights Act, with the Social Development Committee of the South Australian Parliament committing to holding a parliamentary inquiry into the potential for the state to adopt such a law.
The announcement comes on Human Rights Day and exactly one year after a group of more than 150 organisations and experts endorsed a joint statement calling on the SA Government to inquire into a Human Rights Act for South Australia.
The move to establish an inquiry has been applauded by the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS), the Rights Resource Network of South Australia (RRNSA) and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR), who led the joint statement.
Dr Sarah Moulds, Director, Rights Resource Network SA:
“We commend the Parliament for establishing this Inquiry to examine how we can improve human rights protections across our state.
Despite our proud history as a leader in protecting democratic freedoms, South Australian's basic rights remain largely unprotected under existing legislation, leaving us lagging behind other jurisdictions.
The Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Queensland have already enshrined human rights in Acts of Parliament. These laws are returning dignity and power to everyday people, and helping government officials to make fair and caring decisions. South Australians deserve a similar framework as we tackle big challenges like the housing crisis, domestic violence, equitable timely access to healthcare and inclusive education for all children.
Holding a public inquiry into a human rights law for South Australia gives everyone in our state the chance to join the conversation and help design a law that meets the needs of our many different communities.”
Natalie Wade, ALHR Chair of Disability Rights:
“Current South Australian laws and policies provided the backdrop to the confronting cases of abuse and neglect against people with disabilities like Anne-Marie Smith.
Human rights must drive the work of our government and its agencies, from the development of laws and policies, through to the daily government decisions that directly impact our everyday lives. South Australians deserve to be able to obtain affordable, accessible solutions for justice if their human rights are breached.”.
Ross Womersley, CEO, South Australian Council of Social Service
“We know South Australians want to live in a society that strives for the values we hold most dear: justice, equality and a ‘fair go’ for all. This is what a Human Rights Act for SA could deliver.”