OPG and the Queensland Human Rights Act

The Human Rights Act 2019 (the Act) will come into effect in Queensland on 1 January 2020. The Act protects 23 human rights, and all Queensland Public entities (which includes OPG) will have to uphold these rights when they make decisions, create laws, set policies and provide services.

Upholding the human rights of our clients is fundamental to everything OPG stands for, so on a day to day basis you won’t see much difference to the way we advocate for vulnerable adults and children and young people. However we will be updating our internal policies, procedures and decision making frameworks to make sure we are fully compliant with the Act.

When making any decision or taking any actions on behalf of our clients, OPG staff will need to consider which of the 23 rights may be relevant to the particular situation, whether the proposed course of action will interfere or limit those rights, and if they do, whether we can lawfully limit that right.

Lawfully limiting rights

There are scenarios when we are able to limit a person’s rights. These include when it is allowed under a law or regulation (the Child Protection Act 1999, the Mental Health Act 2016, the Forensic Disability Act 2011 and the Disability Services Act 2006 are a few examples), or where that limitation is justified and proportionate.

When determining if the proposed limitation of a person’s rights is justifiable and proportionate OPG staff will consider factors such as:

  • what that human right protects and the values that underpin it
  • what will be achieved by limiting that right
  • how will the human right be limited, and what the consequence will be for that person
  • whether the action (or inaction)is tailored to achieve the purpose, and whether it is proportionate
  • whether there is a less restrictive means available that won’t limit the person’s human rights as much.

By updating our internal policies, procedures and frameworks are updated, we will be providing or staff with the tools to ensure any limitations imposed aren’t arbitrary, and implemented in a way that is transparent and accountable.

Complaints

Under the Act, individuals will have the right to make a complaint and seek remedy where they believe a public entity has breached their human rights. In the first instance this complaint must be referred to the relevant body, and we are currently working to review our complaint function to ensure any complaints we receive are dealt with efficiently and comprehensively.

If an adequate response isn’t received from us within 45 days, complaints will be able to be referred to the Queensland Human Rights Commission.