Friday, 22 July 2016

Charter of Human Rights strengthened by reforms

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission commends the Victorian Government on further cementing the state as a leader on human rights protections, through its support for many of the recommendations made to the Eight Year Review of the Charter of Human Rights.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton welcomed the changes to strengthen the Charter and said the Commission is looking forward to working with the Victorian Government to implement the recommendations.

"In many ways Victoria is a true leader on human rights. These reforms will help strengthen the Charter and will ensure that more people are aware of their rights and responsibilities," Ms Hilton said.

The Commission is pleased to receive support to educate public agencies about the Charter and looks forward to working across the public sector to help create positive and enduring changes in organisations.

The Charter has already brought significant changes to the community, with many public authorities seeking advice from the Commission on ensuring their policies consider the rights of people who may be affected.

"Since it was introduced eight years ago, the Charter has helped to protect the rights of many Victorians and has changed the way in which laws and policies are designed and implemented."

"The recommendations announced today show a real commitment to ensuring that rights and freedoms are a protected part of the fabric of the Victorian community," Ms Hilton said.

The Commission also welcomes the support for a reference to self determination having a special importance for Aboriginal people of Victoria, as descendants of Australia's first people, in the preamble of the Charter.

Ms Hilton said that there was still work to be done to ensure accessible remedies for those whose rights under the Charter were breached.

"Much of the focus on human rights in Victoria is about preventing human rights breaches in the first place by ensuring public authorities are aware of their obligations.

"Education is critical. But we still need to give people who believe that their rights have been ignored or abused, a real opportunity to have their claims heard through a dispute resolution function," Ms Hilton said.

"This is the next step and we look forward to continuing to work with the Victorian Government to ensure that human rights complaints and concerns can be properly addressed."

Read the Victorian Government's media release

Commission media contact: Anna Craig 0447 526 642