Go to top of page

Our purpose

As Australia’s national human rights institution, our purpose is to ensure that Australians have access to effective, independent complaint handling and public inquiry processes on human rights and discrimination matters, and benefit from our human rights education, advocacy, monitoring and compliance activities (Portfolio Budget Statement)

The Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) is Australia’s national human rights institution.

We operate under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) as well as federal laws that seek to ensure freedom from discrimination on the basis of age, disability, race, sex, sexual orientation, intersex status and gender identity. The Commission also has specific responsibilities under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

We operate as a Corporate Commonwealth Entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth). Our operations are determined independently of the government through our President and Commissioners.

Our job is to work towards an Australia in which human rights are respected, protected and promoted, finding practical solutions to issues of concern, advocating for systemic change and raising awareness across the community.

We provide direct services to the Australian community, in particular by assisting people to resolve disputes about discrimination and breaches of human rights. Much of our work is also at the policy level – encouraging government, industry and community groups alike to see fundamental rights and freedoms realised. It involves building the case for change on issues ranging from age discrimination in employment to constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It involves providing a human rights analysis to the courts and parliamentary inquiries, conducting research and contributing to partnerships.

Our work also involves exchanging ideas with equivalent bodies around the world, while closer to home we monitor and report on the experiences of those particularly vulnerable to disadvantage.
From addressing complaints of discrimination, to engaging with government on policy issues, the Commission’s task is both to apply those rights that are currently recognised in our laws, and to aspire for greater recognition and protection of those that are not yet.

Our vision is for an Australia where human rights are enjoyed by everyone, everywhere, everyday.