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Friday, 6 December 1985
Page: 3237

(Question No. 536)

Senator Reynolds asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 13 September 1985:

(1) Is the Queensland office of the Human Rights Commission seriously understaffed, given the highly decentralised population of that State and the heavy workload prompted by a lack of comparable equal opportunity/civil liberties legislation at the State level.

(2) Will the Attorney-General review staffing and travel requirements of the Queensland office to ensure maximum protection of human rights in that State.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) and (2) The Queensland office of the Human Rights Commission is at present comprised of the following eight persons: the Director, three Conciliation/Community Education Officers, an Aboriginal Field Officer, an Office Manager, and two Commonwealth Employment Program participants (whose employment/training with this office will be completed on 31 December 1985).

In addition two officers of the Queensland Committee on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (CDEO) who perform related work are located in the Brisbane office of the Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Bill currently before the Parliament provides for the absorption of the work of the National/State CDEOs into Human rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's functions. It is proposed that when that legislation is passed the Queensland Committee officers will become officers of the Commission in its Queensland office.

In most States, arrangements have been made for functions of the Commission to be performed by State authorities. No such arrangements have been made with Queensland and the Commission has therefore established its own office in that State. The allocation of resources to the Queensland office of the Commission is a matter for the Commission to determine, having regard to the overall resources available to it. I am informed by the Commission that, while the Queensland office has a heavy workload (there being on average one new complaint each day), the staff have been able to cope. I am also informed that the Commission has examined its priorities and is unable to provide further resources to its Queensland office. The Commission endeavours to see that the resources of available staff and funds for travel are used in as efficient and effective a manner as is possible.