Brief abstracts of conference sessions will be listed here once the final program has been confirmed.

Title: Integrating human rights education within the Street Law curriculum

Lead Presenter: Seow, Florence


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Session Abstract: “I would suggest to you, as the human rights culture is a declining one in Australia, our citizens are ill informed about their rights, our political leaders denigrate those who claim their rights, and we have a growing culture of apathy in the face of ministerial executive exercise of discretion which is neither compellable nor reviewable, where we have a veil of secrecy drawn across crucial matters on the purported ground of national security but a ground not subject to review.” – Gillian Triggs Australia’s weak human rights culture is a product of the Australian federal system, the dualist system for the reception of international law and lack of a federal legal human rights framework. In the 6 states and 2 territories of Australia, only Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have a legislative instrument that enshrines human rights and basic mechanisms for their enforcement, creates a national culture in which awareness of human rights can be said to be inconsistent and relatively weak. While there is greater difficulty in building human rights culture in states and territories where there is no human rights legislation, addressing the question of how a human rights culture can be built in places that do have human rights legislation is a crucial opportunity for reversing the decline of human rights awareness in Australia. Street law can be an ideal vehicle for providing community legal education on human rights law, domestic and international. The paper evaluates the delivery and outcomes of Melbourne Law School’s Street Law programme in human rights by evaluating data collected from law students, high school students and school. It does this by discussing the structure of the Street Law programme and its delivery method, the aims of the programme in relation to human rights, how data was collected and analyses the data. The paper concludes that despite the obstacles provided by Street Law in its iteration as a single semester university subject, there is still value in providing this education as it provides young people with exposure to the potential and limitations of the domestic and Victorian human rights framework.

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