Human rights advocate

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The start of the new decade is also the start of a new era for human rights in Queensland, with the Human Rights Act taking effect from January first 2020.

Human rights lawyer, president of the LGBTI Legal Service and Griffith University graduate and lecturer, Matilda Alexander, brought in the new decade by speaking on a panel to those gathered at the Woodford Folk Festival, about the significance of this legislative change.

She says it’s the culmination of a massive grass roots effort to ensure the right of all citizens are respected and protected.

"It's been a huge community campaign to try and get human rights legislated in Queensland and protected in this way," Matilda said.

"Human rights are a wonderful tool that are not specific to one particular area of law.

"So whether you practice in environmental law, prison law, in judicial reviews, in child protection law, anything to do with the way the government regulates its citizens, disability - all of the NDIS providers are covered by it, it's a wonderfully diverse tool."

Matilda explains how the new legislation has many applications across society. She says the Human Rights Act provides much more than just minimum standards that governments and bureaucracies must abide by.

"Human rights are about so much more than minimums, although they do protect minimum standards," she said.

"They're actually about human dignity, and respect for the integral individuality of humans.

"So I think that they are more than just a minimum safety net, that they actually go much further.

"They provide us with the flexibility to apply these universal principles of dignity and self-worth to the specifics of individual situations, in a way that really makes sense.

"The human rights framework is a way to balance all of those things together, and come up with a way that actually considers firstly what is the impact on human individuals in Queensland of government action."

She also urges each of us to find out how the Human Rights Act affects us individually, and as a community.

As well as teaching Prison Law at Griffith University, Matilda is a human rights lawyer, specialising in human rights and anti-discrimination for Legal Aid Queensland.

A Remarkable Tale

Matilda spoke to Griffith at the 2019 Woodford Folk Festival, to share her thoughts on the Queensland Human Rights Act 2019.

Listen to the podcast