Public entities have obligations under the Human Rights Act 2019 to act and make decisions in a way that is compatible with human rights and to give human rights proper consideration when making decisions.
What is a public entity?
A public entity is an organisation or body providing services to the public on behalf of the government or another public entity. The public service and its employees are examples of public entities.
There are two types of public entities: core public entities, and functional public entities (although these are not the terms used in the Act). Both have the same obligations under the Act.
Core public entities are public entities at all times, regardless of the functions they're performing. State government departments fall under this category.
Functional public entities are those which are only public entities when they are performing certain functions. Including these under the Act reflects the modern operation of the government, where non-government entities are engaged in various ways to deliver services to the public, on behalf of the government or another public entity.
For the purposes of the Human Rights Act, a public entity is 'in and for Queensland'. This means that federal public services and entities are not included.
Public entities with responsibilities under the Human Rights Act include:
- State Government departments and employees
- Local councils, councillors and employees
- Queensland police and other emergency services
- State schools
- Public health services
- Public service employees
- State Government Ministers
- Organisations providing public services on behalf of the government, e.g. public housing providers
Private schools are not public entities and neither are private health services. The reason for this is that although in both cases they are performing functions of a public nature they are not doing so on behalf of the state.
To find out more about public entities and to download a toolkit go to the Human Rights Commission's page on public entities.
Acting and making decisions in accordance with human rights
The Human Rights Act 2019 places obligations on public entities to act and make decisions in accordance with human rights.
Under the Act, 'compatible with human rights' means an act or decision does not limit a human right or limits a human right only to the extent that is 'reasonable and demonstrably justifiable'.
By understanding and considering human rights when delivering services or designing policy, public entities can play an important role in protecting the rights of everyone in Queensland.
Find out more about this on the Human Rights Commission web page on Acting and making decision in accordance with human rights.
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