Can the new Queensland Human Rights Act combat the rising number of school exclusions?

Danielle Iliffe, Lindsey Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceResearch


An increase in school suspensions and expulsions in Queensland has generated concern from those working with youth in the community legal sector. Such practices disproportionately impact vulnerable groups, such as Indigenous youth, and increase the risk of future incarceration. Until recently, once a child was excluded from state school, there was scant ability to ensure that they could continue to access education in a manner appropriate to their needs. The enactment of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) (HRAQ), enshrining a right to education, provides an opportunity for recourse for students who have been unfairly restricted from accessing school. The HRAQ clearly requires that students’ rights be considered in school decisions to suspend or exclude. This post first introduces the right to education under s 36 of the HRAQ. It then unpacks issues raised by school suspensions and exclusions. Next it examines the particular impact on Indigenous youth. Finally, it further explores the potential scope of s 36. We examine what may comprise a successful human rights complaint and address possible limitations. If the HRAQ is effective in keeping vulnerable youth in school, many local communities will benefit from the flow-on effect of diverting young people from the criminal justice system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Public Law Blog
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


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