Every year, the Australian Human Rights Commission recognises the outstanding contribution of individuals and organisations in promoting and protecting human rights and freedoms. This year’s Human Rights Awards finalists includes the Charter Education Program (CEP), led by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Department of Justice and Regulation's Human Rights Unit.

One of the findings of the 2015 Review of the Charter Human Rights and Responsibilities Act was that human rights had been deprioritised. In response, DJR funded the Human Rights Unit, in partnership with the VEOHRC, to establish the CEP to educate Victorian public servants about human rights with the aim of strengthening Victoria’s human rights culture.

The CEP, which began in January 2017, provides customised education sessions to Victorian Government departments, agencies and local councils, supporting efforts to apply the Charter in day-to-day work across the sector. Since then, more than five thousand public servants have benefited from tailored human rights education.

This year marks the first time that the AHRC recognises ‘government’ as a stand-alone award category. The CEP has been short-listed for the award together with the City of Ballarat, the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Gamed Corporation and Professor Peter Shergold.

Find out more about the Charter Education Program.

The Victorian Court of Appeal has today handed down judgment on the appeal brought by the United Firefighters Union of Australia Victoria Branch (UFUV) against the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (the Commission).

This week, the Financial Services Royal Commission commenced its inquiry into insurer’s treatment of the community – and with it, everyday people’s experiences and frustrations will be brought into the light.

The Supreme Court of Victoria today confirmed that courts must consider the distinct cultural rights of Aboriginal people under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities when making decisions in relation to an Aboriginal person’s request to be heard in the Koori Court.

The figures released today by the Australian Human Rights Commission that show sexual harassment continues to be a major problem in workplaces should be a concern for us all.

Everyone’s Business, the 4th national survey into sexual harassment in the workplace, found one in three workers in Australia said that they had been sexually harassed at work over the last five years, compared with one in five from the 2012 survey and one in ten in 2003.

This equates to 39 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace.

The results revealed that formal reporting of workplace sexual harassment continues to be low, with only 17 per cent of people making a formal report or complaint.

For almost four decades, the Commission has handled complaints about sexual harassment in Victoria’s workplaces.

We know that it is pervasive, widely tolerated and drastically under-reported in our state and beyond.

Despite the global conversation on the topic and the momentum of the #MeToo movement, people don't report because they don't think they will be believed or they worry that it could damage their career.

We also know that it can take a serious emotional, physical and economic toll.

So we want to be clear about the seriousness of the change needed.

This is the moment to think big. Victoria’s employers must reshape our workplaces to prioritise the prevention of sexual harassment and to respond properly to it when it becomes known, and they must start right away.

We need to work to change underlying social norms and inequalities that lead to sexual harassment and to change workplace cultures that do little to address sexual harassment. We have moral and legal obligations to ensure that all people work in an environment that is respectful and safe.

We can help

In Victoria, the Commission provides an alternative for people who don’t want to report sexual harassment to their workplace directly or take court action.

We have a free dispute resolution service, which provides an opportunity for people to explore ways of resolving the dispute by mutual agreement. It gives someone who has been sexually harassed a chance to explain what happened, the damage caused to them and hurt experienced.

If you think you’ve been sexually harassed, you can call our Enquiry Line on 1300 292 153 to speak with a staff member. They can give you information about the law and explain how you can make a complaint to the Commission. Find out more about sexual harassment and dispute resolution at the Commission

We also provide education and resources for employers about their responsibilities under the law. Contact our Education and Consulting Services on (03) 9032 3467.

Media contact

Megan Breen
0417 449 420

Victoria's unique human rights law provided real benefit to vulnerable Victorians over the past year, according to a report tabled in state Parliament today.

Cast your mind back – if you can – to late 1970's Victoria.

Joint media release from Commission for Children and Young People and Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

Action to strengthen Aboriginal cultural rights in youth justice centres can’t wait for the outcomes of a previously announced inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the state’s youth justice system, according to a new joint report released today by the Commission for Children and Young People and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

"It is the Commission’s job to remind people of the laws around racial vilification, discrimination and human rights and to make sure that those who suffer from vilification or discrimination are able to report it.

Victoria has seen a dramatic rise in race-based discrimination reports over the past twelve months, according to new figures from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

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