• Class Number 1672
  • Term Code 3020
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Toni Johnson
    • Dr Toni Johnson
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 02/12/2019
  • Class End Date 07/01/2020
  • Census Date 01/01/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/12/2019
SELT Survey Results

The course examines the extent to which and how international human rights standards are present in, or affect, Australian law.

The course considers history, philosophy and theories of human rights.  It discusses the absence of - and analyses the need for - national human rights legislation in Australia, and reviews where and how human rights are found in Australian law.  This involves considering legislative, executive and judicial action in all jurisdictions, ranging from a National Human Rights Action Plan and the powers of the Australian Human Rights Commission, to human rights legislation in the ACT and Victoria and nationwide anti-discrimination laws.  Particular attention will be paid to various actors such as NGOs and public interest lawyers.

After a thorough examination of 'domestic' human rights, the course looks at the way Australia engages with the international system of human rights, where its conduct is subjec to scrutiny by UN committees.

The course will focus on the human rights of certain groups of people whose human rights are vulnerable in Australia, and will analyse case studies.  The course will feature at least one practical exercise inviting students to engage in human rights action as means of better understanding the material.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Analyse and evaluate how human rights standards are relevant to, and operate in, Australian law;
  2. Identify, distinguish and analyse issues and solutions in relation to human rights standards in the specific context of particular groups of people in Australian society; and
  3. Plan and execute a project that describes, explains, analyses and compares the challenges of working with the law to protect and promote human rights in Australia by constitutional, statutory, common law and/or administrative means.

Research-Led Teaching

This course will be designed around and will engage with guest lecturers and will focus on student ideas, research and debate.

Required Resources

Paula Gerber and Melissa Castan, Contemporary Perspectives on Human Rights Law in Australia, (Lawbook Co., 2013)

The following books (in alphabetical order by author) may be found useful in preparing for your in-class presentations. Copies of each will be in the short term loan section of the Library:

P. Alston & R. Goodman, International human rights (OUP., 2012)

P. Bailey, Human Rights: Australia in an International Context, (Butterworths, 1990) – useful as it contains a good deal of relevant history relating to Australia

B. Boochani, No Friend but the Mountains: The True Story of an Illegally Imprisoned Refugee (Pan Macmillan., 2019)

B. Gaze and B. Smith, Equality and discrimination law in Australia : an introduction (CUP., 2017)

P. Gerber & M. Castan, Contemporary perspectives on human rights law in Australia (Lawbook Co., 2013) [course text]

H. Charlesworth, The Australian reluctance about rights (Osgoode Hall Law Journal 1993)

H. Charlesworth, Australia and the International protection of Human Rights: International Law in Australia. (Thomson Reuters., 2017)

M. Davis & M. Langton, It's Our Country: Indigenous Arguments for Meaningful Constitutional Recognition and Reform (Melbourne University Press, 2016)

S. Keenan, Subversive property: law and the production of spaces of belonging. (Routledge, 2014)

S. Keenan, The Gweagal Shield Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 68(3), pp. 283-290

D. Kinley (ed), Human Rights Law in Australia – useful for many aspects of Australian law, (Federation Press, 1998)

J. Leeser, Responding to some arguments in favour of the Bill of Rights  in Julian Leeser and Ryan Haddrick (eds), Don't Leave Us with the Bill: The Case

Against an Australian Bill of Rights (Menzies Research Centre, 2009) 

S Joseph & A McBeth (eds), Research handbook on international human rights law (Edward Elgar 2010)

D. Meagher, The Principle of Legality in Australia and New Zealand (Federation Press 2017)

N. O’Neill, S. Rice and R. Douglas, Retreat from Injustice: Human Rights Law in Australia, (Federation Press, 2004, 2nd ed) – its focus is more on practical than theoretical issues

N. Rees, The Policy goals of Australian anti-discrimination law (Federation Press., 2014)

N. Rees, K. Lindsay, S. Rice, Australian Discrimination Law: Text, Cases and Materials, (Federation Press, 2018) – useful for discrimination law

B. Tamanaha, On the rule of Law (CUP 2012)

G. Williams, Human Rights under the Australian Constitution OUP, 1999 – useful for constitutional issues

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course: In person, in class, online

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Extensions late submission and penalties - https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/extensions-late-submission-and-penalties

Deferred examination: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/deferred-examinations

Special consideration: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/special-assessment-consideration

Penalties for excess word length: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/word-length-and-excess-word-penalties

Distribution of Grades Policy: Effective from Winter Session and Second Semester 2018 (and until further notice), the current Grading Distribution Policy has been suspended pending the development of a new policy. For further information about the interim policy please see: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/grading

Further Information about the Course: is available from the course WATTLE page. Students are required to access the WATTLE site regularly throughout the course for details on weekly classes and any announcements and updates relating to the course.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 2/12 PM Lecturer: Johnson Topics: History and theory of human rights
2 3/12 PM Lecturer: Johnson Topics: Refugees
3 9/12 PM Lecturer: Johnson Topics: Women's Rights - (maternity leave/pay, DV, wage gap, pensions, abortion access)
4 10/12 PM Lecturer: Johnson Topics: Sustainable Development Goals
5 16/12 PM Lecturer: Bartels Topics: Race and Detention
6 17/12 PM Lecturer: Johnson Topics: Essay consult

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Class Participation 10 % 17/12/2019 24/12/2019 1,2,3
Facilitator for a discussion paper 10 % 17/12/2019 31/12/2019 1,2,3
Written summary of discussion paper 5 % 17/12/2019 31/12/2019 1,2,3
Research Paper 75 % 06/01/2020 04/02/2020 1,2, 3

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


The course is conducted in 3 hour classes that feature discussion of issues, problems, case studies and scenarios to examine the week’s topic more closely. This course is designed to be inquiring and discursive, and it will rely on your engagement and discussion to enhance learning. The course therefore requires your personal presence and participation. 

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 17/12/2019
Return of Assessment: 24/12/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Class Participation

Details of task: The course is conducted in 3 hour classes that feature discussion of issues, problems, case studies and scenarios to examine the week’s topic more closely. This course is designed to be inquiring and discursive, and it will rely on your engagement and discussion to enhance learning. The course therefore requires your personal presence and participation. You will receive a mark for participation.

Nature of task: Compulsory

Value or weighting: 10%

Release: 2 December is the first intensive session.

Due date: 17 December is the last intensive session.

Estimated return date: 24 December 2019

Assessment criteria:

  • Contributes
  • Relevance
  • Completeness and Coherence
  • Understanding of topic
  • Preparation for class

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 17/12/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/12/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Facilitator for a discussion paper

Details: Students will be given the opportunity to facilitate a class discussion during one of the intensive sessions. Students may choose a text from the reading list or an academic paper of their choice to be approved by the convenor. Students will summarise the main arguments of the paper and facilitate a discussion of the paper with the rest of the class.

Nature of task: Compulsory

Value or weighting: 10%

Due date: Ongoing, last session 17 December. No extensions will be permitted.

Word limit: NA

Estimated return date: 7 January 5pm.

Assessment Criteria:

  • clear outline of arguments
  • engages others to participate via comments and questions

Assessment Task 3

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 17/12/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/12/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Written summary of discussion paper

Details of task: Students may choose a text from the reading list or an academic paper of their choice to be approved by the convenor. Students will summarise the main arguments of the paper. The summary must be uploaded to Turnitin.

Value or weighting: 5%

Release: Topics will be assigned in the first week of the course.

Due date: Summaries are to be uploaded by the end of the day of your presentation. Late submission (without an extension) is permitted, although late penalties will apply.

Word limit: 200 words

Estimated return date: 5pm 31 December, 2019. Feedback will be available online via Turnitin.

Assessment Criteria: It is anticipated that the papers must:

  • properly referenced,
  • clear outline of arguments
  • appropriately structured
  • grammatically sound.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 75 %
Due Date: 06/01/2020
Return of Assessment: 04/02/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2, 3

Research Paper

Details of task: Students may choose a topic from a list which will be generated by the class during the first two weeks of the course. Original research will be required. The research essay will require students to conduct independent research that investigates a theme, issue or policy underlying the human right issue. Some topics may deal with material addressed towards the end of the course. Therefore it may be necessary for students to read ahead of the lectures.

Value or weighting: 75%

Release: Topics will be generated by the second week of the course; a list will be posted on Wattle.

Due date: 5pm Monday 6 January via Turnitin. Late submission (without an extension) is permitted, although late penalties will apply.

Word limit: 3,200 words (excluding bibliography).

Estimated return date: 5pm Tuesday 4 February. Feedback will be available online via Turnitin.

Assessment Criteria: It is anticipated that the papers must show:

  • significant independent research,
  • be properly referenced,
  • have a clear argument that reaches a clear conclusion,
  • be appropriately structured, and
  • be grammatically sound.

The criteria for the assessment of the research essay will be set out in a rubric to be posted on the course Wattle site by week 2 of the semester.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignment feedback will be provided via the WATTLE site and Turnitin.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Toni Johnson

Research Interests

Human Rights, Refugee Law, Family Law, Legal Theory

Dr Toni Johnson

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Toni Johnson
+61 2 6125 3483

Research Interests

Dr Toni Johnson

By Appointment
By Appointment

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