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Performance indicators 4a (and PBS target) and 4b: Education and training programs and resources are engaging, meet quality standards and increase knowledge to apply human rights in different settings.

Education and training programs and resources are engaging, meet quality standards and increase knowledge to apply human rights in different settings.

Human rights education is one of the Commission’s statutory functions. Our human rights education and training strategy is led by President Croucher. This work seeks to increase understanding about human rights, and to lay the foundations for positive change in attitudes and behaviour among students and employers/employees (government and private).

We do this by developing and promoting resources for schools, by developing and delivering training programs and by collaborating with organisations to develop and deliver their own training programs.

School Education Resources

The Commission’s approach to school education resources is to ensure they are free, easy to download and meet teachers’ needs by being mapped to the Australian curriculum and developed by human rights and teaching experts. This means schools, parents, students, teachers and the broader community can trust the information is factual and clear, while appropriate and engaging for young people.

In this period, we completed and released our suite of school resources, ‘The Story of our Rights and Freedoms’. The series is designed to assist students in building a critical understanding of human rights and responsibilities, and to develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills to apply human rights in everyday life.

They are mapped to the Australian Curriculum for History and Civics and Citizenship for years seven through to ten. The resources introduce students to the concept of human rights and explore the important relationship between fundamental rights and personal responsibilities. They comprise a set of videos and more than a hundred lesson plans mapped to curriculum learning objectives for the target years. The resources were launched at the National Future Schools Conference and Expo on 21 March 2019.

A second resource release was the ‘Rights and Freedoms Calendar’. The Calendar is designed to connect and compliment the Commission’s existing education materials with interactive lessons that are directly linked to the Australian curriculum.

Released in the year that celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the calendar provides the historical context of the genesis of United Nations’ declarations and treaties, how they apply to Australia and how they have been applied in Australia’s human rights journey.

Public service training programs

Public servants play a unique role in ensuring that the government exercises its positive duty to protect human rights. Every decision they make—from delivering services to drafting legislation—has the potential to affect the human rights of the general public. For this reason, it is essential that public servants are educated about human rights, and the role they play in protecting them.

In this period, we continued our program to provide targeted face-to-face training for public servants aiming to help government employees to understand and apply human rights frameworks in their day-to-day work.

An example is our collaboration with the NSW Department of Family and Community Service (FACS) to develop and deliver disability awareness training and, more recently, older worker awareness training to FACS staff. Evaluations of both training programs show the Commission is delivering engaging training with the majority of participants experiencing immediate outcomes of increased knowledge, understanding and ability. These outcomes are more likely to be sustained as NSW FACS is undertaking this training as part of a wider NSW government commitment to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and its own NSW Ageing Strategy 2016–2020.

​Upholding the Rights of People with Disability: NSW FACS graduates

Under this initiative and in this reporting period, the Commission delivered 12 workshops reaching and training 168 graduate participants. 155 participants completed our evaluation survey. Analysis of the feedback indicates that most of the respondents were satisfied with the training quality and developed new knowledge and skills in relation to the learning objectives as Figure 6 illustrates.

Interest in our training is increasing. In this period, we commenced a program with the Sydney Inner West Council, to tailor and deliver training to personnel working in disability and access areas for the council.

Upholding the rights of older workers: NSW FACS managers training and awareness campaign

This is a newer initiative with FACS, scheduled to deliver ten half-day workshops targeting FACS managers, including three regional workshops. In this period:

  • The training package was developed—which included drawing on the attitudinal data from the ‘Employing Older Workers 2018’ research report (see indicator 3b). The first two workshops were also delivered to 26 participants.
  • The Commission developed and released an awareness package with FACS: Multigenerational workforces: a guide to the rights of older workers under the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth).

Early results from the participant evaluation survey, indicate that respondents find the training engagingly delivered and effective in building their awareness of what an age friendly workplace is, and that it builds their confidence to contribute to age friendly approaches in their own workplace.

Note: from 1 July 2019, FACS has changed name to the Department of Communities and Justice.


An increasing focus of our work is to harness information technology to enable more people to access relevant and accessible human rights information.

In this period, we updated our iOS RightsApp and released an Android version. RightsApp is a quick reference tool that supports individuals to know their rights and assists businesses, employers and community groups to check their obligations under international human rights law. Developed in partnership with LexisNexis®, RightsApp is the world’s first mobile application that allows users to quickly and easily search international human rights conventions and declarations by topic and right.

RightsApp provides a guide to international human rights law, containing the full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ten other major international human rights treaties and agreements, and the corresponding optional protocols. In addition to containing the text of some of the world’s most important international human rights treaties and agreements, it also contains signatory information and relevant UN committees’ general comments.

The information in the app is universal—it has been downloaded from all over the world. As part of the Commission’s education and technical cooperation work in Vietnam, a version of the app is in development in Vietnamese.