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The Commission was established in 1986 by an act of the federal Parliament. We are an independent statutory organisation and report to the federal Parliament through the Attorney-General.

Our Vision:

Human rights: everyone, everywhere, everyday

Our Mission:

Leading the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia by:

  • making human rights values part of everyday life and language;
  • empowering all people to understand and exercise their human rights;
  • working with individuals, community, business and government to inspire action;
  • keeping government accountable to national and international human rights standards;

We do this by:

  • listening, learning, communicating and educating;
  • being open, expert, committed and impartial;
  • fostering a collaborative, diverse, flexible, respectful and innovative workplace.

Our statutory responsibilities include:

  • education and public awareness
  • discrimination and human rights complaints
  • human rights compliance
  • policy and legislative development.

We do this through:

  • resolving complaints of discrimination or breaches of human rights under federal laws
  • holding public inquiries into human rights issues of national importance
  • developing human rights education programs and resources for schools, workplaces and the community
  • providing independent legal advice to assist courts in cases that involve human rights principles
  • providing advice and submissions to parliaments and governments to develop laws, policies and programs
  • undertaking and coordinating research into human rights and discrimination issues.

The Commission works closely with other national human rights institutions, particularly through the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, to address major human rights issues in the region.

We also undertake bilateral international activities as part of the Australian Government's development program run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The most substantial of these is the Human Rights Technical Assistance Program, which is part of the annual Dialogue on Human Rights with China.

Our structure

The Commission is a collegiate body made up of a President and seven Commissioners. The President is the chief executive officer.

Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM

June Oscar AO
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

The Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO
Age Discrimination Commissioner

Ms Megan Mitchell
Children's Commissioner

Mr Alastair McEwin
Disability Discrimination Commissioner

Mr Edward Santow
Human Rights Commissioner

Race Discrimination Commissioner

Kate Jenkins 
Sex Discrimination Commissioner

2017 Diversity Strategy

As the body with a statutory responsibility to ensure the observance of human rights in Australia, it is important that respect and acceptance of diversity is an integral part of our own workplace. Diversity in our staff is one of our greatest assets and assists us to meet our organisational objectives.

Our diversity strategy, for the first time incorporates all of our commitments and activities across 4 separate reporting areas and includes our Reconciliation Action Plan, our Disability Action Plan, our Agency Multicultural Plan as well as Workplace Diversity Program and has streamlined our processes and intensified our efforts.