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

To find out more about public entities and to download a toolkit go to the Human Rights Commission's page on public entities

What is not a public entity?

The Act defines a public entity as being 'in and for Queensland'. This means that federal public services and entities are not included. Private schools are not public entities because they are not performing their services on behalf of the state. They do not have to comply with the obligations for public entities under the Act.

Many private hospitals and private healthcare providers will also be exempt, unless they are treating public patients.

The role and obligation of public entities

The Human Rights Act places two obligations on public entities: to give proper consideration to, and act compatibly with, human rights when making decisions or taking actions.

A public entity can act or make a decision that limits human rights, but only if it is reasonable and justifiable, or  if the entity could not have act differently or made a different decision because of another law.

Find out more about what is a public entity and acting compatibly with human rights for public entities on the Human Rights Commission website.

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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