There has been a dramatic increase in support for a Charter of Human Rights compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic, new data reveals.
An opinion poll of over 1,000 people across Australia found that 83 percent of people believe there should be a document that sets out in clear language the rights and responsibilities that everyone has here in Australia, an increase from 66 percent in 2019. 74 percent agreed that a Charter of Human Rights would help people and communities to make sure the government does the right thing, compared to 56 percent two years earlier.
There was a similar surge in support for the idea of a Charter of Human Rights, with 46 percent supporting a Charter and only 10 percent opposed, compared with 33 percent support and 10 percent opposition in 2019.* The increased support came from the category of people who were not sure, which dropped 14 percent across the two years.
The biggest increases in support were from younger people. The Human Rights Law Centre, which is among 65 organisations calling for an Australian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, commissioned the opinion poll, conducted by QDos.
Human Rights Law Centre Executive Director Hugh de Kretser said:
“These survey results shows strong and increasing support for a Charter in Australia. We’ve seen a big rise in support, particularly from younger people as well as increased recognition of the benefits that a Charter would bring.
“These results may reflect a growing awareness of the vulnerability of peoples’ human rights in Australia given the lack of comprehensive legal protection through a Charter. The COVID-19 pandemic and government responses have made people think about their rights, and the rights of others in new ways.
“A Charter of Human Rights will ensure that shared values like freedom, equality, dignity and respect are at the heart of laws, policies and government services. It will ensure that if someone’s rights are violated, they can take action to seek justice. It will help to realise a fair go for all.
“A Charter will help to ensure that everyone can access quality health care, regardless of where they live; that every child can get a good education; that people in aged care homes are treated with dignity, and so much more. A Charter will be an essential pillar of our democracy.
“It is time that Australia joined every other western liberal democracy in the world by introducing a national Charter of Human Rights. We urge people to get behind the campaign for an Australian Charter of Human Rights.”
*All 1,038 survey respondents were asked the question, “At the moment, do you think a Charter of Human Rights sounds like an idea you would support?” Of these, 435 were given “yes”, “no” and “not sure” response options, which was the same as all respondents to the 2019 survey. In 2021, the remaining 603 respondents were only given “yes” and “no” options, of which 75 percent answered “yes” and 25 percent “no”.
In recent years Australian Federal Police have raided journalists for doing their job, major scandals have exposed how people in aged care facilities have been treated and people with disabilities have missed out on the services they need.
An Australian Charter of Human Rights would help to prevent human rights violations like these, providing a powerful tool to challenge injustice. It would help communities to better understand their human rights.
65 organisations, coordinated by the Human Rights Law Centre, are campaigning for an Australian Charter of Human Rights. You can learn more about the campaign at www.charterofrights.org.au.
The poll results are available here.