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Retreat from Injustice

Retreat from Injustice

Human rights law in Australia

2nd edition

By Nick O'Neill, Simon Rice and Roger Douglas

This new edition of Retreat from Injustice has the strengths and style of its predecessor:
  • the account of human rights in Australia is firmly grounded in historical and international contexts;
  • the availability and limitations of rights and freedoms are clearly detailed and illustrated with cases; and
  • a particular spotlight is placed on key current human rights issues including terrorism, indigenous issues and asylum seekers.


From natural law to human rights 
Sources of human rights law in Australia 
Explicit constitutional human rights in Australia 
Implied constitutional rights 
The common law and human rights 
International protection of human rights 
Implementation of international human rights in Australia 
Liberty and security of the person 
Fair trial 
Treatment of persons in custody 
Freedom of assembly 
Freedom of association 
Freedom of speech, expression and the media 
Contempt of court 
Anti-discrimination law 
Indigenous Australians and the legal system 
Indigenous Australians and the criminal justice system 
Indigneous land rights 
Indigenous Australians’ right to customs and cultural heritage
Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers

Table of Cases/ Table of Statutes/ Index


a useful resource for anyone who has an interest in the area of human rights, especially legal practitioners, students and politial commentators.

The Catholic Weekly, October 21, 2007

[The authors’] intention is one of examining ‘how and the degree to which universally accepted human rights are enforced in Australian law.’ (p 26). That the book achieves this end cannot be questioned. It is a carefully structured, highly detailed and exceptionally well referenced consideration of the historical progession of the definition and protection of human rights, both on the international stage and in Australia (to which they devote three-quarters of the book).
For the generalist such as myself, the potted history of human rights law in chapter 1 was actually fascinating reading … From the Magna Carta to the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the authors weave a story that is both factual and discursive. …
At the end of the first 212 pages of solid reading, … there is no doubt the reader will be informed to the extent of being able to conduct an intelligent debate about Australia’s position on human rights. …
The remainder of the book appears to be more for the specialist. If you are interested or work in the equal opportunity, indigenous rights, or immigration arenas there is plenty here for you …

Public Administration Today, July-October 2005

Retreat from Injustice offers an incisive analysis of the effectiveness (or perhaps ineffectiveness) of the mechanisms to protect human rights in Australia. It raise the fundamental question of how rights can best be protected in Australia and reveals, at least to this reader, the stark inadequacy of the current methods. … Let’s hope the next edition will be able to bring some good news.

UNSW Law Journal, Vol 27(3) 2004

Reviews of 2nd edition
Just got hold of a copy of your book and have read about 3 chapters so far. It's good, in fact it's very good. It fills a number of holes in available literature and provides some useful summaries of things I have not had time to comprehensively look at eg current use of Magna Carta, 1688 Bill of Rights etc. Congratulations to you and your fellow writers.

Simeon Beckett, Barrister

Indications of the research value of this book to students, practitioners and to those dedicated to improving human rights can be found in the 19 pages devoted to cases; the 18 pages devoted to statutes; and the 14 pages of general index, quite apart from the copious footnotes. …
At 1c a page this book is worth every cent of the $85 recommended price.

Ian Mathews, Unity No 394 (3 September 2004)

Reviews of 1st edition
This is a practical book for lawyers. … It shows how, with obvious failings and imperfections, common and statute law in Australia have combined to provide, at least for the majority of orthodox citizens, a high measure of legally protected freedoms. On the other hand common and statute law have fallen down, as the book demonstrates, in the protection of the rights of women and of sometimes unpopular minorities such as Aborigines, migrants and refugees, demonstrators, unconventional people, gays and prisoners.

The Hon Justice Michael Kirby, Australian Journal of Human Rights

… could be termed the first black letter volume on human rights ever published in Australia. The information contained within its 500 pages is quite staggering. There are references to every conceivable item of legislation or case law relevant to human rights in Australia. As a resource it may well prove to be peerless.

Gerry Simpson, Melbourne University Law Review

A valuable addition to human rights discourse in Australia

Brian Opeskin, Sydney Law Review

… highly recommended. It is an important book [which is] … likely to stimulate the interest of the reader.

Professor George Williams, Public Law Review

[A]n invaluable text not just for students but for commentators on politics and civil liberties.

James Griffin, Eureka Street

[V]ery well written and reader-friendly … comprehensively documented and … contains a wealth of information.

Mort Stamm, Prima Facie

[C]lear, concise and void of hyperbole. Case examples are plentiful and points generally are eruditely substantiated.

Scott Hearnden, National Aids Bulletin

Retreat from Injustice is a major Australian study of the sources and application of human rights laws in this country. … It is a detailed work which covers almost all key aspects of Australian human rights. … an extremely impressive academic work …

Anna Ziaras, Victorian Bar News


Published 22 July 2004
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781862874145
Australian RRP $85.00
International Price $80.00
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Law - Human Rights
Human Rights & Civil Liberties
Secondary School Resources

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