Australia's record on children in detention and its draconian anti-terrorism laws are examples of why we need a Human Rights Act, former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has told a packed public forum at UNSW.

A capacity crowd of almost 400 people filled the Law theatre for the open community forum "Does Australia need a Human Rights Act?"

Australia is the only liberal democracy without such an Act or similar human rights protection. The federal government is currently wrapping up a national consultation on how human rights are to be protected in this country. The deadline for submissions is 15 June.

Hosted by the UNSW Law Society and Amnesty International UNSW, the forum featured a moderated panel of distinguished speakers, including Mr Fraser, former President of the NSW Court of Appeal, Keith Mason, barrister for Dr Mohamed Haneef, Stephen Keim, barrister and European Union public law expert, Angela Ward, and director of UNSW's Gilbert + Tobin Centre for Public Law's Charter of Human Rights Project, Ed Santow.

Dean of the Faculty of Law Professor David Dixon praised the student organisers and described the forum as a "great contribution to public debate".

"There was real substance to it; it wasn't the usual rhetoric. It shows the calibre of events our students are capable of organising."

For a full podcast of the event visit UNSW on iTunes.

Media contact: Steve Offner UNSW Media |02 9385 8107 |