Human rights training

Use these training materials to help you apply the Human Rights Act 2019 in your workplace.

Complete the Queensland Human Rights Commission’s (QHRC) free online training course, Introduction to the Human Rights Act 2019.

This training includes:

  • what human rights are
  • a brief history of human rights and how they are protected in Queensland
  • responsibilities of public entities, courts, tribunals and Parliament
  • human rights complaints processes.

Additional training courses are available on the QHRC website.

Log in to For government to watch a recording of our human rights 101 session. This is an initial awareness session for Queensland Government employees. It’s not an online training module or in-depth human rights seminar.

You’ll discover the modern system of human rights, Queensland’s Human Rights Act, and how to apply the Act in your work as a Queensland Government employee.

Visit our Human rights resources page and read our fact sheets and guides. They have information about:

  • human rights law in Queensland
  • individual rights and what they protect
  • human rights complaints
  • making decisions that are consistent with human rights law
  • reviewing and developing policy and legislation that is consistent with human rights law.

See when and how human rights might be affected in the workplace.

Read our hypothetical case studies:

Read our hypothetical scenarios:

Watch our hypothetical scenarios:

Giving out personal information

You’re an administrative officer and a customer asks you for a copy of a document that contains personal information about their mother.

Do you give them a copy of the document?

You need to follow your work processes, but also consider the human rights of the customer and their mother.

If the customer is asking for a document that contains information they legitimately need, and you don’t provide it, this decision could interfere with their right to freedom of expression. The right to freedom of expression includes the right to ask for information from the government.

If the customer is asking for a document that contains personal information about their mother and you provide it, this decision could interfere with the mother’s right to privacy.

Flexible work arrangements

A new employee asks for flexible work arrangements. They need to leave early each day to collect their child from school. You already have one employee leaving early each day for health reasons. Having another person in the team leaving early could impact your team’s coverage during business hours. 

Do you approve the flexible work arrangement?

You need to consider your employee’s human rights. They have the right to:

  • protection of families and children. Their children have the right to protection that is in their best interests.
  • recognition and equality before the law. If you treat them differently to other people at work because they’re a parent, it could be discrimination.
  • take part in public life, which includes the right to access the public service without discrimination.

Moving freely in Queensland

You’re a park ranger who has found a member of the public off-trail in a national park. There is a fire nearby and you’re concerned they may get lost or injured. They insist they have a compass and know where they’re going.

Do you insist they return to the trail or leave the park? Do you ask for their personal details so you can follow up with them and make sure they get to where they intend to go?

You need to consider this person’s human rights. They have the right to:

  • freedom of movement, which includes telling people where and how to move or stop
  • privacy, which is engaged if you ask someone for their name, identification, or other information
  • life and security of person, which includes their physical safety.

Taking submissions

You’re overseeing a redevelopment project for a popular park. You want to find out what people would like as part of the park’s redevelopment. Your co-worker suggests placing a submission box at the park. That way you’ll get feedback from the people who use the park.

What approach do you take?

You need to consider the affected human rights. Queenslanders have the right to:

  • participate in public affairs without discrimination. Your decision could affect the rights of some members of the public to take part in the submissions process.
  • freedom of expression. Everyone has the right to seek, receive, and share information and ideas of all kinds.
  • recognition and equality before the law. Your decision could restrict some people with certain attributes from being able to participate in the process, or favour certain people over others.

Using an interpreter

How are human rights relevant in your work?

As Queensland public service employees, we have to think about the impact of our work decisions and actions on the human rights of people in Queensland. 

For example, think about the following hypothetical scenario. A front counter employee is serving a member of the public who has difficulty communicating in English. 

They’re having trouble filling in a form and can’t understand what the employee is saying. 

The agency policy says that the form must be completed and it’s only in English.

Does the employee send them away with the form? 

Does the employee organise an interpreter?

How are human rights relevant in this situation?

Everyone has the right to recognition and equality before the law . This means they should be able to access a government service, even if they have different needs.

Cultural rights are also protected, which means that people can use their own language.

And everyone has the right to privacy and reputation, which could be affected by asking a third party for help in filling out a form.

An interpreter, for example, might find out private information about the person.

But qualified interpreters have rules they must follow about confidentiality which will protect the person’s privacy while making sure they can get help to fill out the form.

What other options are available to protect the person’s rights?

For example, maybe the person has an appointment with a support service where they could get help, or perhaps there are other translation options such as an onsite staff member.

Each situation will be different, but you do have to think about how the person’s human rights will be affected by your decision and how to balance rights.

What decision would you make?

For more information about human rights, go to www.forgov.qld.gov.au/humanrights

Dress codes

How are human rights relevant in your work? 

As Queensland public service employees, we have to think about the impact of our work decisions and actions on the human rights of people in Queensland. 

This includes the human rights of other public service employees we work with, supervise or report to.

For example, think about the following hypothetical scenario. The manager of a team that works directly with clients has been told to think about introducing a dress code for the team. 

Someone suggests banning religious and cultural clothing, or clothes with political slogans, so there is no risk of offending any clients. Should the manager support this?

How are human rights relevant in this situation?

The manager is authorised to decide about the dress code. Their decision will limit a person’s human rights if it stops them enjoying their rights or changes the way they enjoy their rights.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief . People can believe what they want and demonstrate their belief. 

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. People can have an opinion and express that opinion the way they choose. This includes how they express themselves in the way they dress, as well as slogans on t-shirts. 

And everyone has the right to enjoy their culture and identity (cultural rights)  which may include what a person wears, their hairstyle, or tattoos.

Staff and clients also have a right to recognition and equality before the law, which includes not being treated differently because of religious belief or activity, political belief or activity, gender identity, sexuality, or race.

Human rights in decision making

The dress code suggested would limit these rights of staff. That doesn’t mean the manager can’t support the dress code. The manager must decide whether limiting those rights is justified and reasonable in the circumstances. (Is the limit reasonable and justified?) The Human Rights Act shows us how to do that.

The manager needs to think about why a dress code is being proposed. (what is the purpose?) Has a client complained? 

Will the suggested dress code achieve its purpose? (rational connection)

Is there a different way to approach the problem that won’t limit the human rights of staff as much? (necessity)

Will the benefits of the dress code outweigh the limit on staff rights? (fair balance)

The answers to these questions will depend on the details of the situation.

What decision would you make?

For more information about human rights, go to www.forgov.qld.gov.au/humanrights.

Housing

How are human rights relevant in your work?

As Queensland public service employees, we have to think about the impact of our work decisions and actions on the human rights of people in Queensland.

This hypothetical case study about a tenancy decision shows how human rights apply in an everyday public service work situation. 

Dealing with disruptive public housing tenants.

Shanna works for the Department of Housing and Public Works. She looks after public housing tenants through a Housing Service Centre. People who live in public housing have to follow a “Fair expectations of behaviour” policy. Sometimes Shanna gives tenants warnings about disruptive behaviour. For example, behaviour that:

  • disturbs neighbours; 
  • threatens the safety of tenants, household members, or neighbours; 
  • or damages property.

Shanna has to decide whether to end a tenancy for a single mum and her two children. They’ve been living in their public housing property for 5 years. Over the last year, they’ve had 4 warnings for disruptive behaviour. One of the children has threatened the safety of neighbours and his family, and damaged public housing property.

How are human rights relevant in this situation?

Shanna has to think about the internal policies and processes she should follow to make this decision, and she also has to think about human rights. 

Shanna needs to know what law, if any, allows her to make this decision to limit a human right. The processes that Shanna follows to manage tenancies come from the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, the law which allows her to make tenancy decisions.

Shanna also needs to make sure her decision is fair and for good reason to comply with the Human Rights Act. The Act shows us how to do that.

Considering human rights in decision making 

[Text in footer bar: Right to privacy and reputation]

The tenants and their neighbours have the right not to have their family and home interfered with. If Shanna evicts the tenant, this will interfere with their home. They will lose their property and may have trouble finding another place to live.

[Text in footer bar: Right to protection of families and children]

The children in the family have the right to be protected, as does the family unit. If Shanna evicts the tenants, this could affect the stability of their family, especially if they then face housing stress. Eviction might not be in the best interests of the children. If Shanna decides not to evict the tenants, this could affect the right to protection of families and children for others who live nearby.

[Text in footer bar: Right to life Ι Right to liberty and security of person] 

If the tenant’s behaviour risks others’ safety, Shanna needs to take appropriate steps to protect people from physical harm and to protect life.

Is the purpose being achieved?

The purpose of limiting the tenants’ right in this situation might be to protect the safety and security of people living nearby, prevent damage to public housing property, protect the peace in the neighbourhood, and protect the rights of people living nearby.

Shanna should understand how evicting the tenants will achieve her purpose. For example, if evicting the tenants won’t lead to the safety and security of others, she won’t be able to show that limiting the tenants’ rights is fair, because it doesn’t achieve her purpose.
 
Are there alternatives available?

Shanna should consider if there are alternatives that limit rights less. She could consider:

  • issuing another warning
  • offering the tenant support services to help them address the behaviour
  • working with the tenant to find them another property that’s more suitable for their needs.

Shanna should also consider how serious the risk to neighbours and public housing property is. Is the risk serious enough to outweigh limiting the tenants’ rights, which will happen if she evicts them?

Is the decision fair and reasonable?