Human Rights Efforts in Australia: Spotlight on the Castan Centre at Monash University

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The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University in Australia is “a non-profit, non-partisan centre focusing on the study of human rights law globally, regionally and in Australia” (see program website here).  Today the Melbourne paper The Age ran a nice profile of the Castan Centre.  Here is an excerpt:

Human rights principles may resonate with the ideal of a fair go, but the nation’s leading academic centre on human rights fears Australia is on a path of least resistance.

As the only liberal democracy without human rights enshrined in federal law, Australia lacks a “human rights culture” — and myths about rights are rife, according to academics at the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law. * * *

Founded in 2000, the centre was the brainchild of Professor [Sarah] Joseph and deputy director Julie Debeljak, both of Monash Law. The centre is named in honour of Ron Castan, QC, a passionate advocate for protection of human rights and distinguished member of the Victorian Bar.

Today it brings together legal scholars, practitioners and advocates from across disciplines, sharing expertise in human rights research, teaching and educational programs, including courses devoted to indigenous rights issues. The centre’s 12 core academics have formed solid links to global human rights institutions too. * * *

Australia has ratified seven of the eight major international human rights treaties. But it doesn’t have a comprehensive document that takes the rights as obligated from the international system “into one document here” — such as a bill of rights, she says. This is despite the National Human Rights Consultation Report that last year recommended Australia install a statutory instrument to protect human rights.

Which leaves a lot of work for the Castan Centre as it strives to protect rights and freedoms for all people. And on that note, it is proud its public talks are mainly free.

The full article is here.

Legal academics interested in international law and human rights work may want to check out the Castan Centre’s site here.  The Centre also maintains an active and informative Twitter feed, accessible here.

-Bridget Crawford

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