14 September 2011 – Victorian Government Charter Review Report Handed Down. The Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee has delivered its report to Parliament. It presents two views, a majority (Government backed) recommendation and a minority recommendation. The majority report recommends significantly reducing the Charter’s scope in relation to overseeing government services and the ability of courts to interpret using Charter rights. The minority report recommends retaining these functions. Both minority and majority reports reject repealing the Charter Act and both support a number of procedural and administrative improvements.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet has issued a statement that the majority view of the report is not necessarily that of the Government. The release also notes that it is evident that the Charter has delivered noteworthy benefits, stating,
The SARC report, and many of the submissions made to SARC, indicate that the Charter of Human Rights has delivered benefits to Victoria, and should not be repealed.
The Government has 6 months in which to respond to the Review.
The Victorian Government undertook a review of Victoria’s Charter of Rights and Responsibilities following 4 years of the Charter’s operation. The Government’s Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee (SARC), reviewed the Charter. It received a large number of public submissions indicating the ongoing strong public interest in strengthening human rights.
IsaiahOne has made a submission to the Government examining two areas of the Charter: (1) the Charter’s effects on the disadvantaged; (2) the Charter’s effects on religious freedom. The submission highlights the strong commitment by Christians to human rights in Victoria. It points out the evidence that the Charter is helping to remedy human rights breaches in several ways, including as an advocacy tool, guiding systemic reforms and through legal challenges. The submission examines the Charter’s effects on religious freedom in Victoria by reviewing controversial episodes such as Catch the Fire Ministries as well as court cases involving religious freedom and the Charter. It concludes by recommending the retention of the Charter’s elements which provide benefits to the disadvantaged, while modifying some elements which have the potential to diminish the protection of religious freedom. Click to read IsaiahOne Victorian Charter Inquiry Submission.