Fact Sheet 15 - Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006

Overview of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities
Act 2006

The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) is legislation that protects the human rights of all people in Victoria.  The Charter ensures that when the government makes laws and delivers services, it does so with civil and political rights in mind.

The Charter also protects and promotes human rights by placing an obligation on public authorities to act in a way that is compatible with the human rights set out in the Charter.  Public authorities should have internal monitoring mechanisms to oversee their administrative decision-making and to ensure that human rights are respected.

The Victorian Ombudsman’s role under the Charter

All Victorian public authorities are required to act compatibly with the human rights set out in the Charter.

The Ombudsman has had the power to enquire or investigate whether an administrative action is incompatible with the Charter.  

Which rights are protected?

The Charter provides equal protection to all people including yourself, your family, your neighbours and your friends, but does not confer rights on corporations.

The Charter contains 20 rights which reflect four basic principles.  These principles are:

  • freedom
  • respect
  • equality
  • dignity.

Freedom

  • freedom from forced work
  • freedom of movement
  • freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief
  • freedom of expression
  • right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association
  • property rights
  • right to liberty and security of person
  • right to a fair hearing
  • rights in criminal proceedings
  • right not to be tried and punished more than once for the same act.

Respect 

  • right to life
  • protection from retrospective criminal laws
  • protection of families and children
  • cultural rights, including recognition of the distinct cultural rights of the Aboriginal people of Victoria.

Equality

  • recognition and equality before the law
  • entitlement to participate in public life (including voting).

Dignity

  • protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
  • protection of privacy and reputation
  • humane treatment when deprived of liberty
  • appropriate treatment of children in the criminal process.

How to make a complaint

If you have a complaint regarding an administrative action taken after 1 January 2007 and its compatibility with the rights in the Charter, you should first attempt to have it resolved by the government department, statutory authority or local council involved.  You may find Fact Sheet 2 useful in assisting you to make a complaint to a government department, statutory authority or local council.  If you are not satisfied with how the complaint has been handled, you can make a complaint to the Ombudsman, who will consider whether further action can be taken.

The Ombudsman can consider whether the administrative action is incompatible with a human right.  As in general complaint handling, the Ombudsman considers the allegation in light of relevant policies, procedures, regulations, legislation and other points of reference.  Consideration is also given to supporting evidence provided by the complainant and the respondent.

When making an enquiry into a complaint, the Ombudsman will consider the relevant Charter rights and any reasonable limitation on applying the rights as part of the administrative action.  For more information please contact this office.

 

Please note: This document is intended as a guide only. For this reason the information contained herein should not be relied on as legal advice or regarded as a substitute for legal advice in individual cases. To the maximum extent permitted by the law, The Victorian Ombudsman is not liable to you for any loss or damage suffered as a result of reliance on this document. For the most up-to-date versions of cited Acts, please refer to www.legislation.vic.gov.au.

 
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Contact Details

Victorian Ombudsman
Level 2
570 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone                     03 9613 6222
Toll free                  1800 806 314
Fax                         03 9602 4761
TTY                        133 677 or
                               1800 555 677
Interpreter service  131 450