Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland today (27 January) announced that the Gillard Government will restore the stand-alone positions of Race Commissioner and Disability Discrimination Commissioner in the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
It will be the first time in 13 years that Australia has had separate Race and Disability Discrimination Commissioners in the AHRC, and comes in conjunction with the government's commitment to establish an Age Discrimination Commissioner.
"This increased funding will ensure the Australian Human Rights Commission continues to play a leading role in the protection and promotion of human rights, including their valuable public education role and advocacy for vulnerable members of our community," said McClelland in a statement released today.
The Government's announcement comes as Australia appears before the United Nations Human Rights Council for its first Universal Periodic Review, in which the country's human rights record will be reviewed.
The delegation is being led by Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Senator Kate Lundy.
"Australia has a strong human rights record and the government welcomes the opportunity to discuss our human rights achievements and initiatives with the international community," Lundy said.
"We will continue to engage with the international community to promote and protect human rights at home, in our region and in the rest of the world."
The establishment of full-time Disability and Race Discrimination Commissioners in the AHRC separates these roles for the first time since 1997. Graeme Innes currently holds both positions and will continue in this role until 1 July, when he will continue to act as Disability Discrimination Commissioner alongside a new Race Discrimination Commissioner.
The government will call for expressions of interest for the positions of Age and Race Discrimination Commissioners in the near future and the new commissioners are expected to take office on 1 July 2011.