Responsibilities under the Charter

The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is a Victorian law that sets out the basic rights and freedoms of all people in the state.

It aims to foster a fairer, more inclusive community by requiring the Victorian Government, local councils and other public authorities to specifically consider human rights when they make laws, develop policies and provide services.

The Charter protects human rights in Victoria in three main ways.

1. Public authorities, including local government and Victoria Police, must act in ways that are compatible with human rights, such as taking relevant human rights into account when they are making decisions.

2. Human rights must be taken into account when making new laws.

3. Courts must interpret and apply all laws compatibly with human rights.

Charter rights may be limited in certain circumstances, but this must be reasonable, necessary, justified and proportionate (section 7(2)).

How the Commission supports public authorities

To help public authorities understand and meet their responsibilities under the Charter, the Commission runs training programs and provides information through our Enquiry Line.

In addition, a public authority may request the Commission to review its programs and practices to assess their compatibility with the Charter. Reviews may be requested for a number of reasons and at different points in the life cycle of a policy or practice.

For example an authority may request a review to:

  • have an independent assessment of whether a practice, policy or program is compatible with the Charter
  • provide input at the time new policies or programs are being implemented or developed
  • assist with the implementation of new legislation or functions
  • review existing human rights training or compliance strategies.

We also carry out a range of other functions under the Charter, including intervening in court and tribunal proceedings that look at human rights questions, and preparing an annual report on the operation of the Charter, tabled by the Attorney-General in State Parliament.

As a public authority itself, the Commission is also required to consider human rights in how we go about our work and how we deliver our services.