03 March 2015

Rights and Responsibilities Charter

The new Victorian Government has announced a review of the state's Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, lead by Michael Brett Young.

The Government comments
 During the last term of government, the Coalition significantly reduced the emphasis placed on the Charter and made cuts to Charter education and training for government departments. This review is the first step in delivering the Labor Government’s election commitment to refresh the Charter and resume public education to embed the values of freedom, respect, equality and dignity in society. The report – which will include consultation with key stakeholders and submissions from the public – will be delivered to the Government by 1 September 2015, before being tabled in Parliament by 1 October 2015. 
The Review is to inquire into and report on the operation of the Charter, including:
1. Ways to enhance the effectiveness of the Charter, including, but not limited to:
a. reviewing the submissions from the 2011 Scrutiny of Acts & Regulations Committee review and the Committee’s report 
b. the functions of the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission under the Charter and the Victorian Ombudsman under the Ombudsman Act 1973, especially with respect to human rights complaints 
c. the effectiveness of the scrutiny role of the Scrutiny of Acts & Regulations Committee 
d. the development of a human rights culture in Victoria, particularly within the Victorian public sector 
e. the application of the Charter to non-State entities when they provide State-funded services. 
2. Any desirable amendments to improve the operation of the Charter, including, but not limited to:
a. clarifying the provisions regarding public authorities, including the identification of public authorities and the content of their human rights obligations 
b. clarifying the provision(s) regarding legal proceedings and remedies against public authorities 
c. clarifying the role of human rights in statutory construction 
d. clarifying the role of the proportionality test in s 7(2), in particular as it relates to statutory construction and the obligations of public authorities 
e. clarifying the obligations of courts including under ss 4(1)(j) and 6(2)(b) 
f. the need for the provision for an override declaration by Parliament under s 31 
g. the effectiveness of the declaration of inconsistent interpretation provision under section 36 
h. the usefulness of the notification provision(s) including under s 35 
i. any other desirable amendments. 
3. A recommendation under s 45(2) as to whether any further review of the Charter is necessary.