24 July 2012

Legal Invisibility

The Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC), in announcing an inquiry into birth registration and access to birth certificates, comments that
Without a birth certificate a person can feel legally invisible and unable to invoke their full rights as a citizen. We will look at whether the current process makes getting a certificate difficult, particularly for already marginalised groups. 
The VLRC is to ask the community about their experiences in using the system, examining whether the current Victorian law meets community expectations. It will look in particular at "the experiences of people from disadvantaged, Indigenous and CALD [ie culturally and linguistically diverse] backgrounds". VLRC chair David Jones commented that
In deciding to take on the review, the Commission has heard evidence of Indigenous experiences of non-registration and failure to obtain a certificate. The Commission believes these issues may also affect other disadvantaged groups such as CALD communities and those experiencing homelessness or mental illness. 
The Commission notes that -
A birth certificate is often considered the first step in creating a child's identity. Once a birth is registered, parents can apply for a birth certificate, which is usually required when the time comes for signing up for school, Medicare, government benefits, a passport and eventually, a drivers' licence. Without a birth certificate access to these may be impossible. 
The current system for getting a birth certificate is a three-step process that includes notification, registration and an application. The Commission proposes to examine whether the three-step process has created an indirect barrier to obtaining a certificate.
The inquiry will presumably touch on questions regarding identity fraud and adoption.