Activity 3a: Establishing and Protecting Human Rights in Australia

The administration processes behind establishing and protecting human rights in Australia are extensive. These rights can be legally established in a number of different ways:

  • through the Constitution of the Commonwealth (for all Australians), or the Constitutions of the States (for the citizens of those States)

  • through Commonwealth, State or Territory Acts of Parliament

  • through decisions in courts over time

  • through the signing of international declarations.

The following tasks give students the opportunity to see how these kinds of decisions are made and implemented. 

Resources Required


e Resources 

  • The Le@rning Federation resource: Changing faces: three interviews (TLF-ID L1010) 

Task 1

Access a copy of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. The Australian Constitution is a document which sets out our system of government. The constitution applies to all Australians.

Record the rights guaranteed in the following sections of the Australian Constitution:

  • Section 51 (xxxi)

  • Section 80

  • Section 116

  • Section 117

Draw the table below. Why might these be important rights to have enshrined in the Australian Constitution? Summarise your answers in the table.

Section of the Constitution 

Guaranteed Right

Possible Reasons Why It Is Important to Have the Right Enshrined

Section 51 (xxxi)  
Section 80    
Section 116    
Section 117    







Task 2 

Read the Handout: Rights Protected by Acts of Parliament and see your teacher to access Changing faces: three interviews (TLF-ID L1010).

  • Help three people from different backgrounds answer questions at a job interview. Notice that the employer’s questions are emotionally loaded and suggest stereotypes about the prospective employee. Choose emotionally neutral responses that focus on ability and experience rather than assumptions. 

  • Visit the complaints section of the Australian Human Rights Commission website. On which grounds could the prospective employees lodge a complaint?  

Task 3

Read the Handout: Rights Protected or Extended by Court Decisions and the case study.

Would you allow the appeal? Explain your reasons. What does this case study illustrate about the connection between statute law and common law? 

Task 4

Read the Handout: Rights Protected by Non-Government Organisations and look at the Amnesty International website.

Identify some of the different methods Amnesty International uses to support human rights. Its methods are often very successful. Suggest reasons why governments might be influenced by international letters and petitions. 


Activity 3a | Activity 3b |  Activity 3c | Activity 3d 

For the teacher | Human Rights Introduction3: How Do We Characterise Human Rights in Australia? 

Overview of activities:  Focus Question 3