Making Victoria’s Human Rights Charter more accessible, more effective and simpler to enforce

The Human Rights Law Centre has urged changes to make Victoria’s Human Rights Charter more accessible, more effective and simpler to enforce in its submission to the eight year review of the Charter.

“It is clear that in its first eight years of operation, the Human Rights Charter has played an important role in protecting Victorians’ human rights. But the Charter’s value has been limited for a range of reasons. Our submission urges changes to improve the Charter’s effectiveness,” said Ben Schokman, the HRLC’s Director of International Advocacy.

“The Charter has improved laws, policies and decisions across a range of areas, from housing to mental health. But there are simple changes that can be made to make the Charter more accessible and easier to enforce for Victorians who need its protection,” said Mr Schokman.

The HRLC’s submission recommends a range of measures including:

  • making the Charter more accessible by allowing Victorians to make human rights complaints to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) which can investigate and mediate the complaints;
  • making the Charter simpler and easier to enforce by allowing people whose human rights have been breached to directly bring legal action in the courts and allow courts to provide a range of remedies including compensation;
  • simplifying legal cases that rely on the Charter by removing the requirement for parties to provide notices to the Attorney-General and the VEOHRC; and
  • improving transparency and accountability around protecting human rights by requiring Victorian Government Departments to develop and report against human right performance indicators.

“We welcome the Victorian Government’s commitment to uphold and strengthen the Victorian Charter and ensure it is robust and effective. These recommendations are focused on that goal,” said Mr Schokman.

The HRLC’s submission can be viewed here:

Other submissions can be viewed here:

Mr Brett Young is due to report to the Attorney-General on his review by 1 September 2015.

For more information:

Ben Schokman, Director of International Human Rights Advocacy: 0403 622 810