Editors Note: To put this article further in context, see our recent articles concerning “Budget 2016 cuts funding from the commission” and “appointment of a new disability Commissioner“.

As you can see from those two articles, the funding to the Commission has been cut back, a Disability Commissioner has been reappointed, but without extending the funding. It is just imposible for the Commission to carry out its duties properly.

Yet at the same time the Attorney General is demanding outcomes and performance from the Commission and this will prove very difficult. Not only because of these funding problems, but when the Commission makes adverse findings against the Liberal Government, such as with children in detention, or our refugee policies, the Government just completely ignores the Commission’s findings. How on earth can the Commission get results against a Government that ignores the rule of law?!


The Australian Human Rights Commission is struggling under severe budget cuts and with one extra commissioner on board, president Gillian Triggs says.

The announcement last week filling three advocate positions for human rights, ageing and disability has put strain on an organisation Triggs worries has become too top-heavy. Previously, the ageing and disability roles were both covered by the one commissioner, Susan Ryan.

“I believe we do not have funding for us to properly meet our statutory obligations,” Triggs (pictured) said in budget Estimates last week.

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Recent cuts were “very significant” and came after “many years” of funding decline, she said, pointing out that every further reduction to the HRC’s “tiny core budget of about $15 million” had a material impact on its work.

Asked about the impact of the “$2 million-plus special efficiency dividend” that came in the federal budget by Labor Senator Catryna Bilyk, Triggs said it was “increasingly difficult as these dividends are brought against the commission’s budget, particularly in light of a $5 million reduction for last year’s budget and for the next two”:

“We have budget reductions which are very significant. When you have a budget of $15 million and then you have a budget reduction of $5 million plus another half a million each year, you are obviously looking at reducing the capacity of an organisation to meets its statutory obligations.”

Triggs said the HRC’s “information, conciliation and complaints service” — which actually provides a large net saving to the government overall — was coming…

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