In its campaign to join the UN Human Rights Council for the 2018 to 2020 term, Australia has pledged to be a ‘pragmatic, principled, and passionate’ promoter of human rights around the world. However, we remain the only Western democracy yet to enshrine a national human rights act or bill of rights. In the absence of such formal legislative protection, and in light of continuing encroachments on the rule of law by government, it is incumbent on practitioners to find creative ways to integrate and rely on human rights jurisprudence in their everyday practice. In doing so, practitioners can play an integral role in building Australian human rights jurisprudence from the ground up, cultivating a culture of respect for human rights while also building the case for a bill of rights to cover gaps in the legal protection.
Join NSW Supreme Court Judge The Hon Justice Stephen Rothman AM, Barrister Kate Eastman SC, UNSW Law Dean, Anthony Mason Professor and Scientia Professor George Williams AO, and Principal Solicitor of the National Justice Project and Adjunct Professor of Law at Macquarie University George Newhouse as they discuss how practitioners can think innovatively about legal issues in light of human rights principles.
Mr Richard Ackland AM
Richard Ackland AM graduated in law and economics and was admitted to the NSW Supreme Court in 1986. He is the founder of Law Press of Australia. He has been a reporter for The Australian Financial Review and a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, a presenter of ABC TV's Media Watch, SBS’s Business Show and Radio National's Late Night Live and Breakfast programs. Currently, he is a columnist for Guardian Australia and The Saturday Paper.
The Hon Justice Stephen Rothman AM
Justice Rothman AM commenced practice at the Bar in 1982, was appointed Senior Counsel in 1995 and appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW in 2005. Prior to his appointment to the Court, Justice Rothman was involved in cases for the protection of persons applying for refugee status in Australia and two ground-breaking cases on racial vilification and freedom of speech (Toben and Scully). As counsel, his Honour was selected by the UN and ILO to advise the Soviet Union on human rights.
Ms Kate Eastman SC
Kate Eastman SC has been a member of the New South Wales Bar since 1998. She was appointed Senior Counsel in 2012. Before joining the New South Wales Bar, Ms Eastman was a Senior Legal Officer with the Australian Human Rights Commission and before that she worked with a commercial law firm in Sydney. Over the past 20 years, Kate has taught international human rights law at several Australian universities. She is currently a Senior Fellow in the Faculty of Law at Monash University.
Professor George Williams AO
George Williams AO is Dean of UNSW Law. He has written and edited 35 books, the most recent being A Charter of Rights for Australia. He has appeared as a barrister in the High Court in many cases over the past two decades, including on freedom of speech, freedom from racial discrimination and the rule of law. As chair of the Victorian Human Rights Consultation Committee in 2005 he helped bring about Australia’s first State bill of rights, the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.
Mr George Newhouse
George Newhouse is a prominent Australian human rights lawyer, Adjunct Professor of Law at Macquarie University and an advocate for law reform and social justice. Mr Newhouse is the principal solicitor and a director of the National Justice Project. He is well known for his work with vulnerable individuals. Most notably, he represented Vivian Solon, who was illegally deported from Australia and Cornelia Rau who was wrongfully detained in an Australian detention centre for 10 months