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10 NGOs in Australia Advocating for Human Rights

Amnesty International Australia

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than seven million people who are independent of any type of political ideology, religion or economic interest and who take injustice personally. Amnesty International Australia is a part of the Amnesty International Network, defending and promoting human rights.

The organization is active in researching on human rights violations that take place in Australia and Asia-Pacific. It employs both advocacy and mobilization to pressure governments to put an end to human rights abuses especially in the areas of violence against women, indigenous peoples and refugees and asylum seekers. Amnesty International Australia has around 250.000 who campaign against human rights violations both in the country and worldwide.

Human Rights Watch Australia

Human Rights Watch is an international human rights NGO dedicated to protecting and defending human rights. Its staff is composed of human rights professionals such as experts, journalists, lawyers, and academics from across the world.

Human Rights Watch opened an office in Australia in 2013. The organization uses targeted advocacy to build public pressure on human rights violators and works on legal and moral changes to changes to improve the human rights. It also works on areas of domestic and foreign policy and meets with the UN, governments and other organizations to press for changes in practice and policy that promote human rights and justice.

Human Rights Law Centre

Human Rights Law Centre is an NGO that envisions ‘’an Australia where everyone is free to lead a decent, dignified life, where laws, policies and institutions promote fairness and equality, and where people and communities have the power to address inequality and injustice and ensure that governments always act in the public interest’’.

The organization uses advocacy, legal action and policy solutions to support communities and people to eliminate injustice and inequality. To achieve its goals, it works with community organizations, law firms and lawyers, academics and experts, and international and domestic human rights organizations. Over the last decade, the Human Rights Law Centre improved access to healthcare for prisoners, established constitutional protection of the right to vote, and provided human rights training to over 15.000 people.

Human Rights Council of Australia

The Human Rights Council of Australia is an NGO that works to promote universal human rights for all people in Australia, region and the world. Since its establishment in 1978, the organization has undertaken and implement a variety of human rights projects.

The organization pioneered in the widely adopted human rights-based approach to development by monitoring actions undertaken by government and by calling for observance of international human rights obligations. Its areas of activity include refugee rights, indigenous issues, refugee issues, business and human rights, sport and human rights and the international human rights system. Human Rights Council of Australia also holds Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic Social and Cultural Committee.

Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR)

ANTaR is an advocacy NGO dedicated specifically to the rights and overcoming the disadvantage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It has been working on reconciliation issues since 1997 and in support of justice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the country.

The organization works on multiple levels to achieve its goals, such as maintaining close relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders leaders and communities and helping them to communicate their concerns and aspirations to the wider public. It also conducts campaigns and national education to raise awareness on related issues. Much of its work is carried out by local groups, which allows for grass-roots level local reconciliation to be effective. Currently, there are around 200 local ANTaR groups working for a better future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Australian Council for Human Rights Education (ACHRE)

ACHRE was founded in 1999 by a group of volunteers with an aim to pursue human rights education in Australia in response to the UN Decade on Human Rights Education. ACHRE works to promote and support human rights in Australia and so far, it has been successful in many initiatives.

The organization provides online human rights educational materials for primary and secondary schools, as well as material for government officials and community organizations. It teaches the public about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through the Citizen for Humanity project. ACHRE also established the National Centre for Human Rights Education at RMIT University in Melbourne and it also organizes conferences, seminars and workshops in developing countries to teach the public about human rights.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights was founded in 1993 and today serves as an association of legal experts active in promoting and practicing awareness of international human rights standards in Australia.

The activities of the organization include promotion and support to lawyers practice of human rights in the country, promotion of both federal and state laws across Australia in accordance with the principles of international human rights law, engagement with the UN in relation to human rights violations in the country, as well as an international engagement to promote the rule of law and human rights. The organization is also active in human rights education through organization of trainings, courses, conferences, seminars and mentoring.

National Children’s and Youth Law Centre

Youth Law Australia is an NGO dedicated to addressing the human rights violations of children and youth in Australia. It believes in justice and equality for all young people and children in the country and works to achieve this by empowering them with free legal knowledge and information. It works to keep children in school and free from any form of child abuse.

As a member of the Child Rights Taskforce, Australia’s largest children’s body composed of over 100 organization, the Youth Law Centre monitors and advocates for the rights of young people in the country and assists in drafting and reviewing reports compiled for the UN on the state of children’s rights in Australia. It also provides confidential and free legal advice to anyone under 25 years of age helping them to find a solution to problems before they escalate.

ActionAid Australia

Provisionally, ActionAid Australia was established as Austcare, an NGO committed to defending the rights of asylum seekers and protection in emergencies. Austcare joined the ActionAid Federation in 2009 and since then it has become an expert in human rights and poverty eradication.

ActionAid Australia focuses on providing support to women in low income communities worldwide and campaigns to raise awareness on their rights. Since its establishment, the organization has firmly established itself in Australia as a global women’s rights organization, assisting women living in poverty and exclusion. Through its campaigns, ActionAid Australia is addressing the structural causes of inequality and injustice by using an intersectional feminist lens.

United for Human Rights

United for Human Rights is an international NGO dedicated to implementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on all levels. It is comprised of educators and groups from across the world who share and implement their knowledge on human rights for all humanity.

The organization was founded on the Declaration’s 60th anniversary with a goal to provide human rights educational resources and unite individuals, educators, organizations and government institutions in the dissemination and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at every societal level. Its goal is to advance people’s understanding of the Declaration and its thirty rights that ‘’together form the basis of a civilization wherein all people can enjoy the freedoms to which they are entitled, and nations can coexist in peace’’.

About the author

Ada Hasanagic

Ada Hasanagić is a human rights professional currently working as a researcher at the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previously, Ada graduated with honors from the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology and the University of Buckingham in the fields of Political Science and International Relations. Also, she earned a master’s degree in Democracy and Human Rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna.