MEDIA ADVISORY: New resource launched to track ongoing COVID-19 measures that impact on civil liberties 

21 May 2020

Grata Fund, in partnership with law firm Hall and Wilcox is today launching the COVID-19 Law Monitor, a resource for journalists and civil society to track COVID-19 measures introduced by governments that impacts on civil liberties and freedoms.

COVID-19 measures have been introduced, amended and rolled back rapidly across Australia making it difficult to keep track. COVID-19 Law Monitor will track the powers used to ease restrictions in different stages across Australian jurisdictions, or if a second wave of COVID transmission occurs, the introduction of new measures.

The website will track Commonwealth, state and territory measures that impact civil liberties including: 

- New or amended legislation.

- Determinations and orders. 

- Use of emergency powers. 

COVID-19 measures have curtailed the freedoms and rights of people living in Australia, and while extraordinary measures are necessary they must be proportionate, time limited and for the legitimate purpose of public health to protect public trust.

Over the course of the last month the COVID-19policing.org.au website, a project started by the Police Accountability Project and supported by organisations including Amnesty International, NATSILS and Grata Fund has received complaints of policing that potentially cross the line and risk severely undermining public trust in the policing of measures that impact civil liberties. COVID-19 Law Monitor is designed to support this project and the work of civil society and journalists by setting the COVID-19 measures out clearly in one place.

Isabelle Reinecke, Executive Director and Founder of Grata Fund said “COVID-19 measures are changing across Australian jurisdictions all the time making it very difficult to stay up to date with the changes, for people to understand their rights and for experts to assess whether enforcement of measures has been inappropriate. We hope that this website is a useful resource for civil society voices, legal services and journalists needing up to date information about the measures to do their work.

Nathan Kennedy, Partner and Head of Pro Bono and Community from Hall and Wilcox said “We are very pleased to provide research assistance to the Grata Fund for the COVID-19 Law Monitor.  The primary focus of our pro bono practice is to enable greater access to justice which includes helping people understand how their rights are impacted in these extraordinary times.  This website will be a source of important reliable information for civil society and the community.”

On April 8 Grata Fund, in partnership with Hall and Wilcox published In democracy we trust: accountability in the time of COVID-19 which outlined the impact of COVID-19 and government decisions on the functioning of our democracy and the COVID-19 measures in place to that date. The COVID-19 Law Monitor project will continue this work on an ongoing basis.

 

Media contact and website enquires: Belinda Lowe 0428 805 696 or belinda@gratafund.org.au

 

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