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Rights-based solutions to critical social issues set to take centre stage at landmark forum in Sydney

Rights and Freedoms
three blue face with map of Australia laid over them
Content type: Media Release
Topic(s): Civil and Political Rights

With a plethora of issues currently impacting significantly on the rights of people across Australia, an upcoming landmark national conference during the Vivid Sydney festival is set to explore a range of new approaches to protecting and promoting human rights in Australia.

Concerns about racism and freedom of speech stemming from the impact of the war in Gaza; Australia’s domestic violence, youth justice, immigration and housing crises; discrimination against First Nations and transgender people; addressing the recommendations of the recent Disability Royal Commission – these and many other issues will frame discussions at the Free + Equal Human Rights Conference over 6 and 7 June.

Presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the conference is set to attract hundreds of delegates from across Australia’s human rights, civil society, legal, justice, government and business sectors to discuss a range of human rights and social justice issues, including paving the way for the introduction of an Australian Human Rights Act and reforming Australia’s Race, Sex, Disability and Age Discrimination Acts.

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 and if Australia’s suite of anti-discrimination Acts should be updated. 

Commission President Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher said: “Human rights are at the forefront of many issues which feature in today’s headlines, so our conference couldn’t be timelier in terms of exploring how we can improve how people in Australia experience justice, equity, compassion and respect.   

“An Australian Human Rights Act as well as proposed updates to Australia’s anti-discrimination laws would be major reforms that would have a significant impact on Australia’s legal, justice, government, civil society and business sectors, so understanding the trajectory of these proposals is vital for people working across these areas, including students of law, politics, business and culture.”

“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 a revitalisation of our human rights framework with an Australian Human Rights Act at the centre.” 

More than 60 eminent experts, thought leaders, social justice advocates and community heroes will provide a lively and inspirational blend of views, insights and perspectives at what promises to be Australia’s premier human rights event for 2024. 

Waleed Aly, Jennifer Robison, Michael Kirby, Adam Spencer, Nazeem Hussain and others will kick off proceedings with the future-shock Rights On Time panel show on Thursday 6 June, while Ten News First presenter Narelda Jacobs will emcee the full day conference on Friday 7 June which will feature more than 50 diverse speakers and panellists across 12 engaging sessions and events. Find out more:

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 human rights-related issues including: 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 keynote address will be delivered jointly by eminent international jurist and former High Court judge Michael Kirby and leading international human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson (who represents Julian Assange). Other speakers include: 

  • All but one of Australia’s national human rights commissioners: Katie Kiss, Robert Fitzgerald, Giri Sivaraman, Anne Hollonds, Dr Anna Cody and Lorraine Finlay (Disability Discrimination Commissioner Rosemary Kayess will be overseas) 
  • Eminent human rights law professors and practitioners Philip Alston, Kim Rubenstein, George Williams, John Tobin, Chris Ronalds, Kate Eastman, Amanda Third, Sarah Moulds and Geoffery Levey
  • UNSW Chief Scientist Prof. Toby Walsh, Australia’s Privacy Commissioner Carly Kind and Human Rights Law Centre CEO Caitlin Reiger
  • First Nations rights advocates and academics June Oscar, Karly Warner, Nareen Young and Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts
  • Human rights and social justice advocates Tasneem Chopra, Juliana Nkrumah, Zaki Haidari, Rob Hulls, Assoc. Prof. Ramona Vijeyarasa, Alan Wu and Daney Faddoul
  • Disability rights advocates Dr Dinesh Palipana, Samantha Connor, Natalie Wade and Hannah Diviney
  • LGBTIQ+ advocates Anna Brown, Ghassan Kassisieh and Aisya Zaharin
  • Youth advocates Zahra Al Hilaly, Seleena Blackley, Anjali Sharma and Kupakwashe Matangira
  • Business and human rights experts Dr Pichamon Yeophantong, Dr Meg Brodie, Siobhan Toohill, Sarah McGrath, Prof. Kristy Muir and Ilona Millar
  • For-purpose media and messaging experts Sam Koslowski, Hannah Ferguson, Mark Chenery and Gemma Pitcher

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 $130 - $650 | BOOK NOW:

Rights On Time

  • Thu 6 June, 7pm – 8.30pm
  • Hyatt Regency Grand Ballroom, Sydney
  • Tickets $35 - $150 | BOOK NOW:

ENDS | Media contact: or +61 457 281 897