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The major functions of the Commissioner are to:
- monitor the enjoyment and exercise of human rights by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to report annually on those findings to the Attorney-General
- promote discussion and awareness of the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to promote respect for, and enjoyment of, those rights through research, educational and other programs
- to examine enactments and proposed enactments to see whether they recognise and protect the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to report to the Attorney-General the results of any such examination.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner also has responsibilities under the Native Title Act 1993 to report annually on the operation of the Act and its effect on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights of Indigenous Australians. The Commissioner's annual reports are tabled in federal Parliament.