VGSO's Human Rights and Workplace Relations and Occupational Safety teams have expertise on the application of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) and on State and federal anti-discrimination legislation.
Advising on the Charter requires a consistent, whole of government approach. Our specialist Human Rights team has particular expertise and knowledge of the Charter, advising agencies across Government on both complex and more straightforward Charter issues. This is why, under the Legal Services Panel Contract, matters relating to the Charter are generally considered exclusive to the Victorian Government Solicitor's Office.
The VGSO advises on anti-discrimination law in its application to employment, the provisions of services and other aspects of public life. We assist Victorian Public Sector organisations to ensure compliance with State and federal laws, and to respond to complaints and litigation. We provide strategic and practical advice to help minimise legal risk and develop policies to ensure the lawful treatment of staff, clients and the broader community.
Advice in relation to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
We provide practical and strategic advice to Victorian Public Sector organisations on their Charter obligations. This includes how to optimise the quality of decision-making and reduce legal risk by making, recording, and implementing decisions in a way that complies with the Charter.
Advice in relation to State and federal discrimination legislation
Victorian Public Sector organisations are required to comply with the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010, as well as with a number of Commonwealth anti-discrimination Acts, including in the context of service delivery and employment.
We advise on how these laws apply to specific organisations. We also advise on the intersection between Commonwealth anti-discrimination Acts and State laws. We can help identify where exceptions apply and where exemptions may be available. We can also assist organisations to develop strategies and policies to ensure compliance with legislative requirements and to minimise legal risk.
Legislation and policy development
We review legislative and policy proposals or existing programmes and advise on how to achieve compatibility with the Charter. We conduct human rights assessments to identify likely rights limitations and advise on safeguards to ensure that policy aims can be achieved in a rights-compatible way.
We can also draft or review Statements of Compatibility, which are required for all Bills introduced into Parliament, as well as Human Rights Certificates, which are required for all new Regulations.
Charter litigation and discrimination proceedings
We represent and provide advice and assistance to Victorian Public Sector organisations in litigation in which Charter or discrimination issues arise, including under State and federal anti-discrimination laws.
Our services include:
- comprehensive advice on the merits of individual cases and litigation strategy
- preparation of responses to complaints filed
- representing Victorian Public Sector organisations in various jurisdictions, including:
- the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
- the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
- the Federal Court
- the Supreme Court of Victoria and the Court of Appeal.
We manage complex employment disputes that involve claims of discrimination, alongside other causes of action. We also advise and represent Victorian Public Sector organisations in proceedings involving claims of sexual harassment or victimisation.
Education and training
We can provide training to assist Victorian Public Sector organisations to meet their legislative obligations under the Charter and under State and Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws. We can conduct general or tailored training on:
- the obligations of public authorities under the Charter
- how to draft Statements of Compatibility and Human Rights Certificates
- individual and organisational obligations with regard to preventing discrimination and sexual harassment and responding to complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment.