“The situation worsened when the mother was accidentally locked out of the room for half an hour and the child became severely distressed.
“Following early-intervention discussions between a commission conciliator and Queensland Health, the family was fast-tracked for an exemption to the requirement to quarantine in a hotel and were able to return home for quarantining one day after lodging their complaint with the commission.”
New figures have revealed that just 104 people, or 0.7 per cent of the total number of requests, were given the green light to quarantine at home.
Queensland Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall also raised concerns about the transparency of the state’s hotel quarantine program, with the commission receiving 54 official complaints since the program’s inception.
The QHRC had previously called for those in hotel quarantine to at least have access to windows that open, if not a balcony or private area where they could stretch their legs.
However, Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young this week confirmed she had recommended fresh-air breaks be stopped in Queensland’s quarantine hotels.
The QHRC report went well beyond COVID-19.
The commission also came to the aid of a man living in his van who was fined almost $3000 for parking in a council-controlled beachside parking area.
He chose the car park, the QHRC said, because there were no parking restrictions and there was 24-hour toilet access “as he needed to urgently use the toilets up to 15 times during the day and five times at night due to a medical condition”.
Despite raising his medical issues with council officers, he was handed fines of almost $3000 for illegally camping at the park, which he could not afford to pay.
“Despite raising his medical issues with council officers patrolling the area, the complainant was given fines for illegally camping at the park,” the QHRC said.
“The fines amounted to almost $3000, an amount he could not afford to pay.
“He found interactions with the council officers embarrassing, and he felt as though he wasn’t being treated with respect.”
The man’s QHRC advocate raised several human rights issues with the unidentified coastal council, “including the right not to have a person’s home arbitrarily interfered with”.
“To resolve the complaint, the council agreed to withdraw the remaining unpaid infringement notices,” the QHRC said.
“The man was reimbursed for the fines he had already paid.”
The unnamed council agreed to train staff on the Human Rights Act.
A total of 655 inquiries and 130 complaints about human rights were made by June 30, 2020.
– with Stuart Layt and Lydia Lynch
Felicity Caldwell is state political correspondent at the Brisbane Times