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The Commission undertakes a wide range of activities in pursuit of our statutory obligations and mandate. We focus our work on issues that constitute ‘protected attributes’ under federal discrimination law or for which there is a mandated specialist commissioner. This includes race, age, disability and sex discrimination, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice, children, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status, and issues within the role of Human Rights Commissioner, which include asylum seekers and immigration, national security and technology issues.

We must inquire into and attempt to conciliate complaints of unlawful discrimination, and breaches of human rights, and process applications for exemptions under the age, disability and sex discrimination Acts.

We may also produce reports to the federal Parliament in relation to the enjoyment and exercise of human rights by children in Australia, by Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders, and in relation to complaints of breaches of human rights. We have a range of functions to raise awareness, conduct research and develop educational resources about human rights, and consider the compatibility of legislation with human rights.

The Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) requires us to exercise our functions in a manner that achieves the ‘greatest possible benefit to the people of Australia’ and ‘with regard for the indivisibility and universality of human rights’. Accordingly, we also conduct human rights education, intervene in human rights matters before the courts, and promote the role of business in addressing human rights.

Our work priorities are set through an annual planning process framed by the four outcomes in our 2018–19 Corporate Plan. In addition, the Commission ensures its work helps achieve the outcome articulated in its Portfolio Budget Statement, being:

  • An Australian society in which human rights are respected, protected and promoted through independent investigation and resolution of complaints, education and research to promote and eliminate discrimination, and monitoring and reporting on human rights.

the sole program of which, Program 1.1, is:

  • Australians have access to independent human rights complaint handling and public inquiries processes and benefit from human rights education, promotion and monitoring, and compliance activities.

Performance criteria

The performance statement on pages 20–47 of this report highlights the ways in which the Commission has met its purpose through activities that are monitored and evaluated. These results are reported in relation to the Commission’s four outcomes and 15 indicators provided in the 2018–19 Corporate Plan. The four outcomes correspond to the performance criteria in the Commission’s Portfolio Budget Statement (PBS). Two indicators under each outcome also correspond to the targets in our PBS and this relationship is indicated in the statement. In this way, a clear line of sight is maintained between our PBS, work plan and results.

In reporting against all the indicators, we have focused on case studies and exemplar projects to demonstrate our performance.

Under the PGPA Rule requirement (subsection 17(2)(b)), our audit committee has assessed this performance statement, reviewing the performance information, systems and framework and the completeness and appropriateness of our performance reporting.


Appendix 1 provides the full text of the abbreviated outcomes and indicators used in the body of the report and shows which of the indicators are also PBS targets.

Appendix 2 lists the Commission’s 2018–19 projects, services and activities against the four outcomes.

Appendix 3 lists the Commission’s major events, reports, publications and education resources completed in 2018–19.