‘These are the cases that have shaped, and continue to shape, the moral heart of the nation. That moral heart is learning to embrace our First Nations, but First Nations and First People know only too well that courts applying human rights law can deliver justice where Parliament lacks the will or bravery.’
– Tony McAvoy SC
‘An essential resource for all interested in how we can advance human rights
through the law in Australia – and demonstrates why Australians need and
deserve better human rights protections in our laws and in our Constitution.’
– Jennifer Robinson, international human rights barrister and author
The first book of its kind, 50 Human Rights Cases that Changed Australia summarises Australia’s 50 most significant and influential human rights cases. The cases include landmark human rights cases from all Australian states and territories. They range from the seminal freedom of expression and First Nations land rights cases of the 1990s, to lesser-known earlier cases on civil liberties and criminal procedure and more recent advances in LGBTIQA+ rights, environmental rights, and the rights of people with disabilities.
Each case summary explains, in plain language, the facts, the issues and the outcome of the case. Each summary also contains key quotes from the judgment, commentary situating the case in its social and political context, and critical analysis of the case’s impact.
The first half of the book contains summaries of cases that have advanced the rights of particular groups in the Australian community: First Nations rights; women’s rights; LGBTIQA+ rights; disability rights; children’s rights; asylum seeker and refugee rights; prisoners’ rights.
The second half of the book contains summaries of cases dealing with particular human rights: the right against racial discrimination; the right to liberty; criminal justice rights; the right to freedom of expression; democratic rights; the right to a healthy environment; and the rule of law.
The cases demonstrate the potential of the law to achieve justice, as well as its limitations. They also reveal Australia’s human rights protections to be piecemeal and inadequate — illustrating the urgent need for a constitutional bill of rights.
Written by two practising human rights lawyers, this anthology is an essential resource for law students, lawyers and activists. It also provides an engaging overview to anyone who might be curious about how the law, and in particular litigation, has advanced human rights in Australia.