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Human rights

Human rights are basic entitlements that belong to every one of us, regardless of our background, where we live, what we look like, what we think or what we believe. 

Based on the values of freedom, equality, respect and dignity, human rights acknowledge the fundamental worth of each person. The law places responsibilities on government and other public authorities to consider people's rights when developing laws, policies and delivering services.

Human rights are the cornerstone of strong, healthy communities where everyone can participate and be included.

Australia has a proud record of adopting and supporting international human rights law. In 1948 the United Nations (UN) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sets out the basic rights and freedoms that apply to everyone. Australia played an active role in developing the Universal Declaration and the international human rights treaties that followed.

It has become the most important document of its kind and is the basis of many legally-binding international human rights laws.

Human rights law includes two major international agreements: one on civil and political rights (for example, freedom of speech and freedom from torture) and one on economic, social and cultural rights, (for example, the right to health and the right to education). International laws also recognises the rights of specific groups of people, including women, different racial groupls, children, people with disabilities and migrant workers.

Some of these treaties are complemented by optional protocols that deal with specific issues or allow people to make complaints.

The Australian Government has agreed to uphold and respect many of these fundamental human rights. These commitments are reflected in our national laws, as well as the policies and programs developed by government.

Read more about Australia's Human Rights Framework.

Victoria's Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities

Victoria's Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) outlines the basic human rights of all people in Victoria. It was introduced into Victoria through an act of Parliament, the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 .

The Charter requires that governments, local councils and other public authorities comply with Charter human rights and to consider relevant Charter rights when they make decisions.

The Charter came into full effect on 1 January 2008 and aims to build a fairer, more inclusive community by giving specific legal protection to 20 fundamental rights.

In certain circumstances, some rights may be limited. However, this must be necessary and reasonable and there must be clear reasons for the decision.

Read more about the Charter and how it works.