Wednesday, 13 November 2019 11:52

2018 Report on the operation of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities - Nov 2019

The 2018 report on the operation of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) was tabled in Parliament by the Attorney-General in November 2019.

In this report, for the first time, we used an indicator framework to help measure human rights culture in the public sector in Victoria. This framework was informed by the Commission’s experience applying the Charter, expert advice on measuring organisational culture and extensive consultation. The result was a framework designed to measure activities that exist when human rights culture is strong.

In preparing the report, the Commission tested the framework with a pilot group of public authorities. This worked well. The report has used the results to highlight areas of good practice and make some practical suggestions on ways authorities can improve their human rights culture.

We found encouraging indications that many public sector staff know about and value human rights. There were strong signs the public sector is engaging community organisations in decisions that impact their rights. We found potential areas for improvement. The results suggested opportunities for leaders to further model and promote human rights. We found scope to better support staff to embed human rights. The results also highlighted ways to better use tools like complaints policies to identify and implement improvements to human rights protection.

The Commission will continue to use the framework as a tool in our work to support authorities to improve their awareness and application of human rights.

The report also includes chapters about the influence of human rights on law-making and courts and tribunals. It’s encouraging to see evidence of courts and tribunals engaging with the Charter and using it to shape decisions. We have included summaries of key cases and legislation.

Finally, the report provides an update on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2015 Independent Review of the Charter. There is still a way to go, with more than half of the recommendations not yet progressed by the Victorian Government. The Commission is concerned about this slow progress and will continue to work with our partners to ensure the opportunities for strengthening the Charter identified in the 2015 Review are realised.

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