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Michael Kirby and Jennifer Robinson to deliver joint keynote address at landmark human rights forum

Rights and Freedoms
headshots of Jennifer Robinson and Michael Kirby
Content type: Media Release
Topic(s): Civil and Political Rights

Two of Australia’s most famous legal eagles are set to team up to prosecute the case for an Australian Human Rights Act at an historic two-day forum in June during the Vivid Sydney festival.

Eminent international jurist and former High Court judge Michael Kirby and leading international human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson (who represents Julian Assange) will tag team at the Free + Equal Human Rights Conference to deliver the event’s keynote address on Friday 7 June at the Hyatt Regency in Sydney:

Presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the conference is focused on paving the way for a revitalisation of Australia’s human rights framework, including the introduction of an Australian Human Rights Act. Both Mr Kirby and Ms Robinson are noted advocates for a Human Rights Act and will detail how such a mechanism would help advance how people in Australia experience justice, equity, compassion and respect.

Mr Kirby said: “Australia has changed significantly over the last 25 years in terms of our population, our economy, our culture and the impact of technology. However, the laws, policies and practices which make up Australia’s human rights framework have not kept pace. This means our country is not protecting and promoting human rights as well as we could. I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts on how a Human Rights Act will help change the face of human rights in Australia and make our country more just, equitable and inclusive. An equal society is a safe society and upholds the Australian dream.’’

Ms Robinson said: “Australia lags behind rights-respecting democracies when it comes to human rights protection. Now is the time to build momentum and mobilise support for an Australian Human Rights Act. I’m delighted to have this opportunity to contribute to national advocacy for such an important reform – and for the human rights protection that everyone in Australia deserves.”    

Mr Kirby and Ms Robinson will also join Waleed Aly, Adam Spencer, Nazeem Hussain and other leading social justice advocates the night before, on Thursday 6 June, for the future-shock Rights On Time panel show where they’ll debate how a Human Rights Act would protect rights from going wrong in the future.

Ten News First Presenter Narelda Jacobs will emcee the full day conference on Friday 7 June which will include 12 engaging sessions and events and more than 50 diverse speakers and panellists who’ll provide a lively and inspirational blend of views, insights and perspectives around advancing human rights in Australia.

Hundreds of delegates from across Australia’s human rights, civil society, legal, justice, government and business sectors are set to attend the gathering which promises to be Australia’s premier human rights event for 2024. 

A week before the conference, the Federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is set to release its highly-anticipated report into the elements of a new national human rights framework, including whether an Australian Human Rights Act should be enacted. 

Commission President Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher said: “An Australian Human Rights Act would be a major reform that would have a significant impact on Australia’s legal, justice, government, civil society and business sectors, so understanding the trajectory of its introduction is vital for people working across these areas.”

“Coming hot on the heels of the PJCHR’s inquiry, the Free + Equal Conference is a not-to-be-missed gathering for anyone with an interest in human rights to be involved in a very timely discussion about how we can advance human rights in Australia and build momentum for revitalising our human rights framework, with an Australian Human Rights Act at its centre.” 

Delegates will learn about the benefits and opportunities a Human Rights Act will deliver as well as how to activate community support and engagement for this long overdue reform. Sessions will also focus on other key aspects of a revitalised human rights framework including: enhancing Australia's anti-discrimination laws; preventing racism; improving children’s rights and youth justice; exploring the intersection of business, technology and human rights; and marking 40 years of Australia’s ground-breaking Sex Discrimination Act.

The conference is also part of this year’s Vivid Sydney festival, providing visiting delegates with opportunities to indulge in all the fabulous entertainment, food, music and spectacle that the Vivid Sydney festival offers. Stay for the King’s Birthday long weekend and make your time in Sydney a memorable getaway! 

Free + Equal Human Rights Conference 

  • Thu 6 June, 5pm – 8:30pm + Fri 7 June, 8.30am – 5.30pm
  • Hyatt Regency, Sydney
  • Registrations $325 - $650 | BOOK NOW:

Rights On Time

  • Thu 6 June, 7pm – 8.30pm
  • Hyatt Regency Grand Ballroom, Sydney
  • Tickets $70 - $150 | BOOK NOW:

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