The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is a Victorian law that sets out the basic rights, freedoms and responsibilities of all people in Victoria in one document.
The Charter compels State and local government and public servants to take human rights into consideration when making laws, setting policies and in the provision of services.
Most parts of the Charter came into effect from 1 January 2007.
Detailed information about the Charter is available from the Human Rights section of this website.
How does the Charter work?
The Charter is an agreed set of civil and democratic rights and freedoms protected by law. Government departments and public authorities must observe those rights.
New policies and legislation must also take into account human rights, and those who work for the Government must also observe human rights so that members of the community are not treated unfairly.
Which rights are included?
The Charter includes the well known democratic rights such as the right to vote, freedom of expression/speech, and other civil and political rights.
The Charter includes a general limitations clause which states that rights may be limited only so far as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society taking into account all relevant factors. This allows us to balance rights to protect the public interest.
The Charter recognises that all rights come with responsibilities. This includes the responsibility to respect other people’s rights.
Why does Victoria need a Charter?
We need a Charter because some basic rights, such as freedom of speech and religion and freedom from forced work and degrading treatment, have no clear legal protection.
The Charter is essentially a form of insurance to ensure that human rights are a priority for present and future governments.
How are Victorians better off under a Charter?
The Charter makes sure that the state government continues to make new laws fairly and gets the balance right between new powers and protecting the rights of Victorians.
The Charter can improve our public services and the behaviour of government departments.