Skip to main content

Important COVID-19 information
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Attorney-General’s Department: Find out how our services are being delivered and how you can access them. For the latest COVID-19 news, updates and advice from the Australian Government, visit Australia.gov.au

Human rights scrutiny

Under the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 all new Bills and disallowable legislative instruments must be accompanied by a Statement of Compatibility. It assesses the compatibility of the legislation with the rights and freedoms recognised in the 7 core international human rights treaties that Australia has ratified.

Under the Act, a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights must also be established. The committee has functions to:

  • examine Bills, Acts and legislative instruments for compatibility with human rights
  • examine Acts for compatibility with human rights
  • inquire into any matter relating to human rights that the Attorney-General refers to it.

These human rights scrutiny processes are designed to encourage early and ongoing consideration of human rights issues in policy and legislative development. They also aim to improve parliamentary scrutiny of new laws for consistency with rights and freedoms in the 7 core international human rights treaties to which Australia is a party.

Policy and legislation officers developing Bills and disallowable legislative instruments can find more information on preparing Statements of Compatibility with Australia's human rights obligations on the Statements of Compatibility webpage.

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

What is the composition of the Committee and how does it operate?

The committee is composed of 10 members – 5 from the House of Representatives and 5 from the Senate. The committee’s powers and proceedings have been determined by Parliamentary resolution.

The committee’s major activity is to scrutinise Bills and legislative instruments for compatibility with human rights. The committee is also able to inquire more thoroughly into Bills and legislative instruments when it considers this appropriate. This includes calling for submissions, holding public hearings and calling for witnesses.

In addition to the scrutiny function, the committee can review existing Acts and conduct broader inquiries on matters related to human rights that the Attorney-General refers to it. In performing these functions, the committee can call for submissions, hold public hearings and call for witnesses.

Visit the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights webpage for all of its reports.

More information

For more information contact the Human Rights Unit at humanrights@ag.gov.au.

Contact details

Human Rights Unit
3–5 National Circuit
Barton ACT 2600
02 6141 6666
humanrights@ag.gov.au