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Human Rights Committee

What is the Legal Aid NSW Human Rights Committee?

The committee is a group of voluntary experts who help Legal Aid NSW to identify and assist in cases that help protect human rights.  The committee considers individual cases to see if they have a broader community impact.

What matters can the committee consider?

The committee considers any type of matter provided it involves an important question affecting people’s human rights. Some of the matters considered by the committee so far have included:

  • access to essential health services by prisoners with mental illness.
  • violation of employment rights such as forced labour, unpaid wages and workplace bullying.
  • permanent residents facing cancellation of their visa and deportation on the basis of a criminal offence.

To help it identify whether a case may have important consequences for the entire community, the committee must follow guidelines that include:

  • the importance to the individual of the breach of their human rights.
  • the effect that a breach of an individual's human right has on the wider community.
  • what is the public interest involved?  Will this case help protect that interest?
  • is there an important and undecided point of law involved?

How can the committee help?

The committee can make recommendations to Legal Aid NSW on whether a case is in the public interest and whether resources should be allocated. That assistance may be provided “in house” or by an allocation of funding towards the costs of running the case outside Legal Aid.

Who is on the committee?

The committee is made up of experts in human rights law from the University of New South Wales, the University of Technology, Sydney, the NSW Bar Association and the NSW Law Society.  It is assisted in its work by Legal Aid NSW staff.

What should you do if you think a case involves an important question of human rights?

Anyone can prepare a report for the committee to consider.  It can be the individual whose rights have been violated or an organisation working on behalf of an individual who needs support to take a legal action.
 
If you think you know of a case that has wider human rights implications, the best place to start is to contact the Human Rights Committee coordinator on 02 9219 5790.

More information