Understand human rights

Human rights protect the dignity and worth of all human beings regardless of background, what you look like, what you think, what you believe or any other status or characteristic.

Read more about human rights on the Queensland Human Rights Commission website.

Download a plain language guide to the rights protected in Queensland (available in English, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese and Torres Strait Creole).

The Human Rights Act protects the human rights of every person in Queensland when they interact with the government, police, public hospitals, public schools and other organisations doing work for the Queensland Government. It puts people first by making sure that the public sector thinks about human rights when they make decisions and deliver services.

Read A human rights approach for Queensland (PDF, 237 KB) to learn more.

Everyone is entitled to have their human rights protected without discrimination. When one person’s human rights needs to be balanced against the rights of another person or group, the Act shows us how to do that.

Before we had a human rights act in Queensland, some human rights were protected by legislation and others by common law (protected through decisions made by the courts).

For example, the Anti-Discrimination Act makes discrimination on the basis of certain characteristics unlawful (e.g. race, sex, age, and impairment). Some common law rights include the right to a fair trial, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of expression.

While our rights were protected, it wasn’t complete, and it wasn’t easy to understand or apply.

The Human Rights Act provides more complete protection for Queenslanders.

Whether you’re a public service officer, manager, teacher, nurse, police officer, or front counter staff, you have a role to play in respecting, protecting and promoting human rights.

For example, a front counter employee helping a member of the public, who has difficulty communicating in English complete an English-only form, would need to consider the person’s right to:

  • recognition and equality before the law—everyone should be able to use a government service, even if they have different needs
  • take part in public life—everyone should be able to participate in a consultation or express their views
  • a fair hearing—if they’re applying to a court or tribunal to resolve a legal problem
  • health services—if they’re accessing public health services
  • education—if they’re enrolling their child in a local primary school, or accessing vocational training.

The front counter employee would have to consider their organisation’s policies, as well as human rights. Using an interpreter would mean sharing private information and that can engage an individual’s right to privacy. People also have the right to use government services without discrimination, and the cultural right to use their language.

Learn how to apply human rights to your work.