The aim of the ACT Human Rights Act research project was to document the impact of Australia’s first Bill of Rights – the ACT Human Rights Act 2004 – over its first five years of operation. It was supported by an ARC Linkage Grant. The complete ACT Human Rights Act project findings can be accessed on the ACT Human Rights Act (ACTHRA) Portal based at the ANU College of Law.

Ten year celebrations

On 1 July 2014, CIGJ celebrated the tenth anniversary of the ACT Human Rights Act by co-hosting a conference with the ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner.

Speakers at the conference included the ACT’s Chief Minister at the time, Jon Stanhope, as well as the current Attorney-General, Simon Corbell. The program also featured contributions from the ACT Chief Justice Helen Murrell, Professor Andrew Byrnes (University of New South Wales), CIGJ Director Professor Hilary Charlesworth, Dr Helen Watchirs (Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner), Heidi Yates of the Women’s Legal Centre, Professor Jeremy Gans (Melbourne University), Professor Simon Rice (The Australian National University), and Noor Blumer (former President of the ACT Law Society). Violet Sheridan gave the Welcome to Country.

Featured publications and resources

Final report

The ACT Human Rights Act research project was completed in July 2009. Its findings are detailed in a final report – The Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT): The First Five Years of Operation.

The final report was tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly by the Attorney General, Mr Simon Corbell.

The ACT government responded to the report on 29 March 2012. The response can be consulted through the transcript of the relevant debate of the ACT Legislative Assembly

Progress reports

The final report was preceded by two progress reports which were presented as conference papers: * The ACT Human Rights Act 2004 – The Second Year (2006) – a paper presented by Ms Gabrielle McKinnon at the ‘Australian Bills of Rights: the ACT and Beyond’ conference, 21 June 2006, Canberra *The ACT Human Rights Act 2004 – The First Year (2005)  – a paper presented by Ms Gabrielle McKinnon at the ‘Assessing the First Year of the ACT Human Rights Act’ conference, 29 June 2005, Canberra.

Case database

Ongoing work on this project is being done by the ANU Law College. Access the case database on the College of Law website.


Byrnes, A., Charlesworth, H. & McKinnon, G. 2009, Australian Bills of Rights: History, Politics, Law, UNSW Press, Sydney.

An opportunity missed? Comment on S.I. bhnf C.C. v K.S. bhnf I.S. [2005] ACTSC 125, McKInnon, Gabrielle Working paper 2015

Creating a human rights culture within the ACT government, ACT Human Rights Act Research Project ANU Government and community sector reports 2008

Giving Meaning to a ‘Culture of Human Rights, McKInnon, Gabrielle Working paper 2006

The ACT Human Rights Act 2004 and the Commonwealth Anti-Terrorism Act (No 2) 2005: a triumph for federalism or a federal triumph?, Byrnes, Andrew, McKinnon, Gabrielle Working paper 2006

The complete ACT Human Rights Act project findings can be accessed on the ACT Human Rights Act (ACTHRA) Portal based at the ANU College of Law.

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