In November last year, RCOA published a study of how the refugee sector has engaged with a suite of mechanisms established to keep the executive government accountable. The mechanisms considered were Freedom of Information legislation, the Australian Parliament, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and United Nations bodies such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. These mechanisms are not judicial in nature, so they are referred to as ‘non-judicial accountability mechanisms.
The report included practical recommendations for improving the effectiveness of such engagement and the effectiveness of the mechanisms themselves. One of these recommendations was that RCOA should facilitate greater understanding of the use of non-judicial accountability mechanisms. As part of implementing this recommendation, RCOA recently published Keeping the Australian Government accountable: a guide. This guide is intended to help those inexperienced in doing so to engage with the Australian Parliament, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Commonwealth Ombudsman and to utilise Freedom of Information legislation.
At the Refugee Alternatives Conference 2020, there will be a parallel session called “How to hold the government to account.” The session will focus on the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and Freedom of Information legislation and will involve a lot of audience interaction. The aims of the session are:
- to provide a basic understanding of the use of non-judicial accountability mechanisms to audience members inexperienced with their use;
- to obtain feedback from audience members experienced in using non-judicial accountability mechanisms on how the use of the mechanisms and/or the mechanisms themselves can be improved; and
- to obtain feedback from all audience members on how to enhance the usefulness of RCOA’s online guide to non-judicial accountability mechanisms.
Join the session! Thursday 13 February from 2.15pm – 3.45pm in room RAPPP3