Charter Education Program: Building a culture of human rights in the Victorian public sector

The Charter Education Program: Building a Culture of Human Rights in the Victorian Public Sector is a collaboration between the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Unit of the Victorian Department of Justice and Regulation.

The program supports public authorities in Victoria make human rights part of the everyday business of government.

We recognise that meaningful cultural change is the result of sustained commitment and efforts over time. The Charter Education Program therefore seeks to:

  • engage and support public sector leaders in building a culture of human rights
  • develop public sector confidence and capacity to apply the Charter in practice 
  • have available resources to embed human rights culture in the Victorian Public Sector.

Since the beginning of 2017 the Charter Education Program has been delivering a range of education services including:

  • Face-to-face education – designing and delivering face-to-face education services for public authorities, tailored to apply the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities in their day-to-day work 
  • E-Learning – developing and making available a suite of six online eLearning modules for public authorities on human rights and the work of Victorian public authorities 
  • Leadership support – supporting the human rights work of public sector leaders including Charter Leaders Group 
  • Resources – developing resources to guide public authorities in embedding human rights in their work. 

How did the Charter Education Project come about?

The 2015 Independent Review of the Charter found that initial efforts to embed the Charter in government processes and practices had been deprioritised in recent years, which had set back the development of a human rights culture in Victoria.

The Charter Review recognised that the most significant contributor to effective human rights protection is building and strengthening a culture where human rights are respected and acknowledged, and where they underpin the day-to-day interactions between government and the people of Victoria. The Charter Review identified three key components to creating a stronger human rights culture:

  • senior leadership and organisational vision
  • operational capacity
  • external input and oversight.

The Charter Review directed 11 of its 52 recommendations toward building Victoria’s human rights culture. In its response, the Government supported or supported in principle 10 of the 11 recommendations relating to strengthening Victoria’s human rights culture.

In response to these recommendations the Government, through the Department of Justice and Regulation, funded the Commission and the Human Rights Unit of the Department of Justice and Regulation to deliver Charter education for public authorities to build a culture of human rights.

In September 2018 the Victorian Secretaries Board agreed that each department, Victoria Police and the Victorian Public Sector Commission would co-fund the continuation of the Charter Education Program until mid-2020.

What are the main actions under the Charter Education Program?

Face-to-face education sessions

The Charter Education Program is delivering face-to-face education to a variety of public authorities including across government departments, agencies, statutory authorities, local government and functional public authorities.

Education services vary in focus, including awareness raising on rights and obligations, a deeper understanding of obligations, and action planning for human rights cultural change.

Leadership support and executive briefings are often initially provided to ensure the organisation’s key messages are agreed and the role of leaders in supporting the education is emphasised.

The education services are designed in partnership with individual work areas enabling the content to specifically incorporate realistic workplace scenarios to apply the Charter in day-to-day roles.

E-learning

The key objective of the eLearning modules is to introduce audiences to the Charter and provide baseline awareness raising content as part of a blended learning approach with face-to-face training where possible. 

There are six modules on the following topics:

  1. An overview of the Charter
  2. Protected rights and obligations under the Charter 
  3. What it means to build a culture of human rights in Victoria 
  4. Complaints and Remedies 
  5. The Legislative Process 
  6. Courts and Tribunals 

Modules 1–3 are recommended for all public authorities. Modules 4–6 are suited to managers, legal and policy officers.

You may access the modules by completing a user registration, which will generate an email with the link to the modules homepage.

There is a brief feedback survey at the end of modules 3 and 6 for continuous improvement.

Leadership support

The Charter Education Program is supporting the 2017 decision of the Victorian Secretaries Board to establish an executive sponsors group, the Charter Leaders Group (CLG), to promote human rights and embed a human rights culture within the Victorian Public Sector.

The CLG was formed in early 2018 and comprises senior executive sponsors from each department, Victoria Police and Victorian Public Sector Commission. The purpose of the CLG is to give practical effect to the Charter by testing, demonstrating and role modelling how leadership can embed human rights practice in organisational core documents, systems and operational capacity.

The CLG will also provide evidence of the difference the Charter makes in guiding public sector decision-making and actions.

The Charter Education Program provides human rights expertise to the CLG as necessary, as well as administrative and secretariat support. 

Resources

The Charter Education Program is in the process of developing a number of practical online resources that will have broad reach across the public sector.

Other useful resources for public authorities include:

  1. The Commission’s website
  2. The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities: a guide for Victorian public sector workers 
  3. The Commission’s reports on the operation of the Charter
  4. The Good practice guide: Managing complaints involving human rights

Contact

For further information regarding the Charter Education Program please contact:

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