The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) is a Victorian law that sets out the basic rights, freedoms and responsibilities of all people in Victoria. It is about the relationship between government and the people it serves.
The Charter requires public authorities, such as Victorian state and local government departments and agencies, and people delivering services on behalf of government, to act consistently with the human rights in the Charter.
Twenty fundamental human rights are protected in the Charter because the Victorian Parliament recognises that, as human beings, we have basic rights, including the right to be treated equally, to be safe from violence and abuse, to be part of a family and to have our privacy respected.
In certain circumstances, some rights may be limited. However, this must be necessary and reasonable and there must be clear reasons for the decision.
How does the Charter work?
The Charter requires the Victorian Government, public servants, local councils, Victoria Police and other public authorities) to act compatibly with human rights, and to consider human rights when developing policies, making laws, delivering services and making decisions. So no matter which state or local government agency the community is dealing with, the same human rights apply.
Each new law must be checked against the Charter and requires a Statement of Compatibility to tell Parliament how it relates to human rights. View the Commisson's register of statements of compatibility.
If a law limits the rights set out in the Charter, the Statement of Compatibility should explain how and why. In exceptional circumstances, the Parliament can still pass a law that does not uphold human rights by issuing an override declaration.
This process aims to anticipate potential problems and prevent unfair treatment from occurring in the first place.
In cases that come before it, the Supreme Court can issue a declaration of inconsistent interpretation, which requires the minister who proposed the law to revisit it. However, the Court does not have the power to strike down legislation. Parliament has the final say over the laws of Victoria.