Professor Sarah Joseph

Queenslanders overwhelmingly support human rights, the Human Rights Act and the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) a new survey from Griffith University has found.

Griffith University researchers, through the market research company Core Data,conducted a survey in July of 1000 people living in Queensland to gain insights on human rights across gender, income and location.

Law Futures Centre’s human rights expert Professor Sarah Joseph said while support was high it was not matched by an awareness of new legal protections and the QHRC.

“We found 91% of Queenslanders surveyed agreed that the protection of human rights and dignity is important,’’ she said.

“But 57% of those surveyed did not know of the Queensland Human Rights Act.”

Professor Sue Harris-Rimmer

Director of the Policy Innovation Hub Professor Susan Harris Rimmer, also an expert member of the Human Rights Advisory Panel to the Queensland Parliament, says community education campaigns are needed.

“There remains considerable work to be done by the Attorney-General of Queensland on educating the public about the new law and the mandate of the QHRC and its ground-breaking free public complaints process.

“Since the QHRC began operating in January, 2020 it has received hundreds of complaints and is now experiencing delays of up to six months.”

Professor Joseph said attitudes to human rights did not vary much between Brisbane and regional Queensland.

“But women were less sure that human rights were being respected than men, especially in health care.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people also responded that human rights were less respected in regions,” she said.

“The age group that was the least supportive of human rights are people over 65.”

The survey also found strong concern about child protection and the rights of children across the state and by all demographics.

When asked to rank their top human rights concerns after child protection, Queenslanders noted health, aged care and disability rights.

“Participants were also sceptical that human rights are being respected in prisons, by the police, in religious institutions and in aged-care settings,” Professor Joseph said.

“Scepticism increased markedly amongst people on lower incomes compared to higher incomes.”

When asked to identify human rights violations from Queensland’s past, the majority identified the state’s treatment of First Nations people and the inability to protest in the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era. Some respondents also identified the current COVID-19 restrictions on movement including vaccinations.

When it came to emerging human rights issues, 76% were in favour of reform to voluntary assisted dying law and 64% think the Queensland Government respected human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.

16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
UN Sustainable Development Goals 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions