Human Rights Education

Enhancing human rights education

On 21 April 2010, Minister for Education Julia Gillard and Attorney-General Robert McClelland outlined a comprehensive suite of education initiatives to ensure all Australians have access to information about human rights. These measures form the centrepiece of Australia’s Human Rights Framework and reflect the key recommendation of the report by the National Human Rights Consultation Committee that education must be ‘the highest priority for improving and promoting human rights in Australia.’

The Framework outlines a number of practical, positive initiatives, to enhance human rights education including:
• greater support for human rights education across the community, including primary and secondary schools;
• investing $6.6 million to expand the community education role of the Australian Human Rights Commission;
• investing $3.8 million to improve human rights awareness in the Commonwealth public sector, including through the development of a human rights toolkit and guidance materials for policy development and implementation of Government programs; and
• investing $2 million for the development and delivery of community education and engagement programs to promote a greater understanding of human rights by non-government organisations (NGOs).

The education initiatives outlined in Australia’s Human Rights Framework will help to ensure that information about human rights, including what they are, why they matter and how they are protected, is more readily available across the community.

Human Rights in Education is a NZ-based open collaborative initiative for better education and citizenship – through the development of schools as learning communities that explore, promote, and live human rights and responsibilities. You may wish to visit the website or subscribe to the newsletter.


  • Human rights education resources for teachers
    The Australian Human Rights Commission’s human rights education resources for teachers – rightsED – aims to help students develop a critical understanding of human rights and responsibilities, as well as developing the attitudes, behaviours and skills to apply them in everyday life.

    The Commission’s rightsED resources include a range of interactive, education activities for teachers and their students. They are designed to introduce students to human rights concepts in an engaging, relevant way. While the majority of resources and activities have been developed for secondary students – Year 9 and up, some resources and activities are suitable for younger students – Year 5 and up. The resources are free to download or order and may be photocopied to use individually or as an entire resource.

  • The Department of Education & Training, Victoria conducted the Ideas for Human Rights Education project in consultation with the Victorian Human Rights Education Committee (VHREC). The project documented good practices in human rights education across the school sectors in Victoria, and disseminated interesting and innovative ideas from which schools and teachers can draw, according to their local needs and issues. The Ideas for Human Rights Education resource has three sections entitled Lesson Sparks, Whole School Organisation and Activities and School and Community Partnerships.
  • The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria has a webpage devoted to thisList of Resources to Support Human Rights Education as well as a page listing Key Human Rights Organisations.
  • Amnesty International offers diverse curriculum materials and teacher resources related to human rights education.
  • Human Rights today is a curriculum resource developed by Curriculum Corporation for Amnesty International Australia for use by teachers and students in years 9 and 10. The resource focuses on issues including child labour, the rights of Indigenous people in Australia, the rights of women and girls, human rights and conflict, and taking action for human rights.
  • The Racism, No Way! resource addresses themes pertinent to human rights education in Australia. Resources include fact sheets on issues relating to anti-racism, multicultural and Aboriginal education; current media articles; lesson ideas for teaching and learning activities for Years 4 – 12; interviews with well-known Australians about their thoughts and experiences of racism; and internet-based activities in which students explore issues relating to racism, cultural diversity, immigration and Indigenous affairs.
  • The Immigration Museum offers the interactive and activity based program Seeking Refuge – stories of asylum seekers, displaced persons and refugees that uses stories from the museum exhibitions to investigate the experiences of individuals who are forced to leave their homeland. The program, suitable for Years 9 – 11, is led by museum staff. Students can investigate the history of legislation relating to the settlement of displaced persons in Australia using documents and individual profiles from the collection in the Museum. Students and teachers then take their own tour through the galleries focussing on historical perspectives and the personal stories of refugees.

    The Immigration Museum also offers the What’s Your Story? Learning Kit for Years 5 – 8. Learning Kits are object-based curriculum-focussed cases available for hire that teachers can use with their students in the classroom. The Learning Kit contains objects, photographs, video and audio footage exploring Australia’s rich and varied immigration history.

Other publications

Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision-Making by Gerison Lansdown, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), 2001.

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