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Human rights

The department provides legal and policy information on domestic human rights matters.

We provide legal advice to government on international human rights matters, including human rights treaties to which Australia is a party. More information on these treaties is available on the Parliamentary scrutiny page.

Australia has obligations to report to United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies on human rights treaties Australia has ratified. More information on these reports is available on the Human rights treaty body reporting page.

Australia has also completed its first Universal Periodic Review which provides an in-depth analysis of Australia's compliance with our international human rights obligations. More information is available on Australia's Universal Periodic Review page.

In Australia, it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age, disability, race and sex.

Discrimination on these four grounds is governed by federal legislation set out in the:

The department assists the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and the Department of Education in the development of standards under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 concerning access to premises, public transport and education. More information is available at:

The department also has administrative responsibilities for the Australian Human Rights Commission, which is governed by the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986.

States and territories

Each state and territory has enacted anti-discrimination legislation. Individuals can lodge complaints about discrimination, harassment and bullying at the Commonwealth or state and territory level depending upon the circumstances of the complaint. For more information, please select the relevant state or territory below:

Human rights and business

International law places obligations on states and territories to ensure third parties, including businesses, respect human rights by complying with domestic laws. The Australian Government expects all Australian companies operating overseas to abide by local laws and standards.

The government also encourages businesses to apply the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. One of the benefits of the Guiding Principles is that, as a non-binding international instrument, they are able to draw voluntary commitments from businesses themselves.

The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are available to download from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website.

Information about ethical procurement practices can be found on the Human trafficking guidelines and factsheets page.

Our department works closely with other government agencies, industry and non-government organisations on areas where human rights and business intersect. More information and resources are available from the following websites: