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Human rights

Human rights are basic entitlements belonging to every person regardless of their beliefs, gender, sexuality, race, religion, background, and physical capabilities. Human rights are based on the values of freedom, equality, respect and dignity, and acknowledge the fundamental worth of each person.

The most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our society are those most likely to have their human rights violated. Human rights set an agreed minimum standard for the fair and humane treatment of people, below which no-one should fall.

By legislating for human rights, the Victorian Parliament has made a strong statement about the moral dignity of human beings in our State, and helped create tolerance, respect and cultural change to value each person equally. The Victorian Human Rights Charter places responsibilities on government to consider people’s rights when developing laws, policies and delivering services.

VCOSS is committed to promoting the understanding, engagement and protection of human rights in Victoria. Stemming from this commitment is a responsibility to ensure that those Victorians who experience disadvantage and/or who are marginalised are able to both fulfil their human rights and engage in processes and decisions which impact on their lives.

VCOSS strongly endorses the idea that every organisation, whether public, private or not-for-profit, should not violate people’s human rights. We believe that every organisation has an ethical obligation to uphold human rights, regardless of whether they have a legal obligation to do so. Respect for human rights strongly aligns with the ethical values that underpin community sector organisations.

The Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission run regular workshops on the Human Rights Charter and how it applies to community organisations and public authorities. They also have a consultancy function.

A guide to the Australian Human Rights Framework has also been produced by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department. While designed for public servants, the guide remains relevant for community sector organisations, local Councillors, staff of Local Government and members of the community. Download In Our Hands (PDF).

The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 provides valuable protection to some of the state’s most vulnerable people. The Charter came into full effect on 1 January 2007 and gives legal protection to 20 fundamental human rights including the right to protection of families and children; right…

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