We had the privilege and pleasure of an address from Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher, AM, President of the Human Rights Commission on day 2 of the National Mediation Conference.
Professor Croucher’s address included the following themes:
- The history of Human Rights legislation in Australia and recent outcomes
- The architecture of Human Rights complaint handling through the HRC and the central place of conciliation.
Professor Croucher traced the development of Human Rights legislation in Australia in its political context and provided an overview of the work of the Commission, summarised in the diagram below.
(Reproduced from the HRC website at: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/ )
Professor Croucher noted that well over 1,000 conciliations had been conducted at the HRC in the last year and reflected on the significance of conciliation for the resolution of complaints her comments echo her address to the Supreme and Federal Court Judges’ Conference 2019 in Hobart, 22 January 2019.
“So much of this work of conciliation continues unnoticed and observed over the years. The reports, required in a few instances, and only in cases of human rights complaints or ILO 111 discrimination, may attract attention—at times—because they do become public of necessity, even though the names may be protected through pseudonyms. Publicity may also happen if the individuals involved in any of the otherwise confidential processes decide not to keep them confidential.
But the Commission’s record over the years speaks for itself. For example, if we look at the number of complaints the Commission has received and conciliated over the past 20 years, the numbers represent successful alternative dispute resolution through conciliation for more than 30,000 people and organisations. And these are not just numbers: for every matter there is an individual who has taken the initiative, sometimes the courageous decision, of coming to the Commission.”