Work With Us

Human Rights Program

 Australia: a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (2018-2020)

On 16 October 2017, the United Nations General Assembly in New York elected Australia to serve on the Human Rights Council, the United Nations body responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights globally.

Australia has a proud record of adopting and supporting international human rights law. In 1948 the UN adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Australia played an active role in its development and the international human rights treaties that followed. This commitment reflects national values that are deeply embedded in Australian society and our respect for democracy and the rule of law.

This prospectus outlines the UNAA’s National Human Rights Program to mobilise resources and actively engage Australians to help achieve the SDGs and their specific targets.

Achieving gender equality is vital to economic development and to realising the full potential of all genders. Australia is strongly committed to working with the international community to advance the rights of women and girls. We advocate for:

  • Ending violence against women and girls
  • Women’s economic empowerment
  • Enhancing women’s voices in decision making, leadership, and peace-building

Good governance, the rule of law and strong institutions are the foundations of a well-functioning, responsive society — they are essential for promoting and protecting human rights. Australia is supporting partner governments in our region to strengthen
accountability measures, improve public sector financial management and deliver public sector reform. This enables our regional partners to deliver more efficient and effective services and protect the human rights of their citizens.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of a vibrant democracy and a culture of accountability; it underpins good governance and stronger institutions. Australia’s domestic and international policy initiatives place a heavy emphasis on protecting the core human right to freedom of expression. Everyone has this right. It includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. The UNAA National Human Rights Program promotes acceptance, tolerance, and understanding within Australia of this fundamental right to freedom of expression.

The UNAA is committed to providing opportunities to assist Indigenous peoples – both in Australia and overseas – to overcome social and economic disadvantage. This will be achieved through:

  • partnering with local Indigenous peoples and organisations to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
  • Advocating for effective government policies that safeguard Indigenous Peoples’ human rights and improve outcomes in Australia
  • Working with Reconciliation Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reference groups to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for the UNAA
  • Commemorating and promoting NAIDOC week and the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
  • Actively encourage representation of Indigenous people in events organised by UNAA

Independent national human rights institutions and a strong and robust civil society play crucial roles in preserving and advancing human rights. The UNAA is committed to strengthening Australia’s national human rights policy and commitment to good governance, as well as increased transparency and support for Australia’s independent human rights institutions.

We promote the important role played by Parliamentary institutions in human rights implementation and oversight and clarification of the status of Australia’s Human Rights Action Plan.

The Program has an important role in supporting Australia’s membership of the Human Rights Council. The Program is not only built on the observance of human rights but also the safeguarding of human dignity and the promotion of the concepts of individual freedom and mutual respect. The principles of equality and justice are fundamental to the effective protection of human rights.

Program activities focus on advancing the rights of historically underrepresented groups, whilst building the capacity of organisations to facilitate dialogue aimed at a greater public appreciation of the strength that diversity brings to our society. It underscores the values enshrined in the United Nations Charter: peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance, and solidarity.

Find out more in the UNAA National Human Rights Program Prospectus

For Additional Program Information, Contact:
Jo Tighe, National Human Rights Program Manager
Ph: 0412 010 151

Or contact