Relevance of the Victorian Charter of Rights to Civil Justice

On 21 December 2006, the Centre made a submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission Civil Justice Review entitled, The Right to a Fair Hearing: The Relevance of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) to Civil Justice. The submission considers the impact that the Victorian Charter, specifically the right to a ‘fair hearing’ enshrined in section 24, is likely to have on civil justice in Victoria.

The submission:

  • provides a summary of international and comparative human rights law and jurisprudence to assist in determining what may be considered to be the minimum requisite elements of the right to a ‘fair hearing’ in civil proceedings; and
  • discusses the impact that the right to a ‘fair hearing’ in the Victorian Charter is likely to have on the civil justice system in Victoria by reference to experiences in other jurisdictions, including the UK and the ACT.

The submission contains a number of recommendations designed to ensure that civil justice policy, procedure and practice in Victoria is compatible with human rights.

On 2 August 2007, the Centre made a Submission in Response to the Commission's Draft Civil Justice Reform Proposals.

On 6 September 2007, the Centre made a Submission in Response to the Commission's Second Exposure Draft Civil Justice Reform Proposals.


Homelessness: Request for Urgent Action from UN Special Rapporteurs

Report to and Request for Action from UN Special Rapporteurs From 31 July to 16 August 2006, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing conducted an official country visit to Australia.  In his Preliminary Observations regarding implementation of the right to adequate housing, the Special Rapporteur noted that there is a ‘serious, hidden national housing crisis in Australia’.

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Relevance of Human Rights to Sentencing of Prisoner with Mental Illness: Michael David Jones v R

On 19 October 2006, in conjunction with Victoria Legal Aid and Chris Boyce of Counsel, the Centre made submissions to the Victorian Court of Appeal in an appeal against sentence.  The submissions pertained to the relevance of international human rights standards to the sentencing of a person with a mental illnedd. MDJ was diagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenia.  In 2005, he was convicted on four counts of armed robbery, assault and kidnapping.  In his decision, the sentencing judge, Chettle J, readily acknowledged the extent of the appellant's mental illness, finding a nexus between his mental condition and the commission of the offences.  Nevertheless, MDJ was sentenced to an extended prison term of 6 years and 9 months, with a non-parole period of 4 years.

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Counter-Terrorism: Request for Urgent Action from UN re Conditions of Unconvicted Remand Prisoners

On 3 August 2006, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre wrote to various UN Special Rapporteurs in relation to the situation of Mr Amer Haddara, Mr Shane Kent, Mr Izzydeen Attik, Mr Fadal Sayadi, Mr Abdullah Merhi, Mr Ahmed Raad, Mr Ezzit Raad, Mr Hany Taha, Mr Aimen Joud, Mr Shoue Hammoud, Mr Majed Raad, Mr Bassam Raad and Mr Abdul Nacer Benbrika (collectively, ‘the Detainees’). The Detainees have been held as unconvicted remand prisoners in the maximum security Acacia Unit of Barwon Prison in Victoria since November 2005 in the case of nine Detainees and since March 2006 in the case of the remaining three Detainees.

The HRLRC is gravely concerned that the type, length, conditions and effects of the Detainees’ detention amount to serious ongoing human rights violations

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Human Rights Education Strategy Report

On behalf of the HRLRC, Allens Arthur Robinson has prepared a Human Rights Education Strategy Report ('Report'). The Report is an excellent summary of human rights education programs in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the Australian Capital Territory and New Zealand.  With recent experience from those jurisdictions demonstrating that education is critical to the effective implementation of human rights instruments, the Report will be of great value to the HRLRC as it develops a legal professional and community education program in relation to the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.

The HRLRC has provided the Report to the Equal Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice Human Rights Unit, the Victorian Council of Social Service and the Federation of Community Legal Centres to ensure that, collectively, our education strategies and activities are well targeted, well coordinated, efficient and effective.