Access to health services in outback Australia: a human right.

Gillian Triggs
Human Rights Consultant and Prominent Academic in Public International Law

This keynote address argues that access to high quality nursing in rural and remote parts of Australia should be viewed through the prism of human rights law.

As the World Health Organisation has declared, “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, or economic or social condition”.

In light of the reported annual deficit of more than $2.1 billion in funding rural health and in light of the special challenges for indigenous peoples, children, and the aged and disabled in rural and remote Australia, some fresh linking is required to ensure equality of access to health care and inclusive delivery of medical services.

If non-discriminatory access to health care is to be achieved in outback Australia we must call governments  to account to ensure they meet their international human rights obligations.


Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs is a respected human rights consultant and a prominent academic in the field of public international law.

Gillian is currently the Assistant High Commissioner Protection with the United Nations and President of the Asian Development Bank Tribunal. She has recently been appointed Chair of the United Nations Independent Expert Panel on Abuse of Office and Harassment.

Gillian graduated in Law from the University of Melbourne in 1968 and gained a PhD in 1982. She has combined an academic career with international commercial legal practice and has advised the Australian and other governments on international legal and trade disputes.

She then went on to become Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law from 2005-07 and Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney from 2007-12.

In 2012, Gillian was appointed the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission a position she held until 2017.

From 2017 to 2019 Gillian was appointed the Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Gillian is the author of many books and papers on international law, the most recent, “Speaking Up”, was published by MUP in October 2018.